The History Of Pan American Games Part II


The second direction in which the development of the Pan American Games went was in regards to the number of country that participated in those Games. With every Games the number of countries that participated increased and consequently the number of athletes and supporting staff also increased. Because of that, the requirements for hosting such an event were also increased and for the country in which the Pan American Games were being held that mean spending more money in order to build new stadium, arenas and Pan American Games Villages.

Growing Number of Athletes

For example, in the first Pan American Games that were held back in 1951, the number of athletes that participated in the events of the Games was 2,513. In those Games, 14 different nations participated. However, if we fast forward the records to the recent games we will be able to see that in Pan American Games that were held in Rio de Janeiro in 2007, the number of athletes that participated in the competing events was 5,633 and the number of nations that participated also increased to 42 nations.

As previously mentioned, Games Village is one of the most important aspects of the Games, whether Olympic or Pan American Games. Just like Olympic Village, Pan American Village is also intended to provide the athletes and their trainers everything they need in order to perform as best as they can during the games. In that regards, Games Villages had to provide everything from health clinics, doctors, nurses to cafeterias and places to perform religious duties for all those athletes who wanted to do that.

Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) did not exclude event territories that are not fully recognized as countries to participate in the Pan American Games. In that regard, Puerto Rico and Bermuda are participating in the Games despite not being internationally recognized as independent nations. That might be seen as the main reason why the number of nations participating in the Games as well as the number of athletes that participated increased throughout the history.

Winter Pan American Games Initiatives

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In 1951 when the first Pan American Sports Congress decided the time and the place for the first Pan American Games, there was also the idea of organizing Winter Pan American Games during the same year in the same city, Buenos Aires.

However, since Pan American Games were still in the initial phase, there was not a lot interest for the Winter Pan American Games as well. Because of that the Pan American Congress decided that the Winter Pan American Games will not be organized that year but they did not bury that idea completely. One of the problems for the organization of the Winter Pan American Games is the lack of snow. Only two countries (the United States and Canada) have the period of snow and the required facilities to host the Games.

The snowy periods in the South America are mostly unreliable and in those location in which there is enough snow for such events there is a lack of facilities to host such competitions. Besides that, since Americas are actually in two different hemisphere it would be very hard to find a period to suits everybody to participate in the Winter Games because of reversed seasons in the North and in the South.

There was another attempt to organize Winter Games. In 1959, Lake Placid in New York expressed interest to organize and to host the Winter Games. However, since there was not enough countries that were interested in participating that effort was finally abandoned.

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However, in 1988, to a surprise of many, Pan American Sports Committee with a majority of votes decides to organize the first Winter Pan American Games. They would be organized in Las Lenas in Argentina in 1989. Besides that, PASO also concluded that Winter Games shall be organized every four years just like the Summer Pan American Games.

However, the lack of snow that winter in Las Lenas was the reason why those games in 1989 were postponed and the new date for the first Winter Games was determined to be September 1990. However, some unbelievable things occurred in September 1990. Only 97 athletes participated in the first Winter Pan American Games and out of those 97 athletes, 76 came from three countries (Argentina, Canada and the United States).

The games were a total fiasco. Since there was enough snow to host all skiing events, only three disciplines were held (the Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G) while all other disciplines were cancelled. In those events at Winter Pan American Games, the United States won all 18 medals which was never recorded before.

Despite the fiasco with Winter Pan American Olympic Games, PASO still decided to organize the second Winter Pan American Games, this time in Santiago, Chile in 1993. After that a controversy occurred when the United States said that they will participate only if all sporting events take place.

After some time and after some more negotiations and researching the countries’ interest for these Games, Chile decided not to host the second Winter Pan American Games. The main reason why Chile dropped out of the organization of those Winter Games was the fact that the United States have decided not to participate in those Games. That was the end of the idea of Winter Pan American Games and the idea has not been revived since then.