Peru hosts the 18th Pan American Games

World Today

The Peruvian capital Lima just played host to the 18th Pan American Games the biggest sporting event ever hosted by Peru. While the games ended this past weekend, the city was left with more than just memories. CGTN’s Dan Collyns explains.

From the outset, this event was a chance for Peru to put itself on global display and Peruvians were not disappointed.

From the spectacular opening ceremony to winning performances starting on the first day when two Peruvian marathon runners took home gold medals in the women’s and men’s categories.

That set the tone for what was – for many Peruvians – an unforgettable gathering for more than 6600 athletes and 41 nations.

Peru has never before hosted a sporting event of this size and never before has the country won so many medals in the Pan American Games. After the games, the plan is for these world-class sporting facilities to stand as a lasting legacy for Lima.

Among them is specially built stadium and a state-of-the-art Olympic swimming pool.

Along with the dazzling opening and closing ceremonies, these were games to remember.

“These were the biggest Pan American Games in the history of the Pan American Games,” said Neven Ilic, president of Panam Sports.

The price tag for the event around a billion dollars, organizers say, half the cost of the last games four years ago in Toronto.

What’s more, they say, the games leave behind a world-class infrastructure for some 10 million residents in Peru’s sprawling coastal capital.

“If a sports program plus an urban regeneration program starts happening in the districts that have now (sic) the amazing venues, then you can have also a comprehensive beneficial service for the community and the surrounding areas but also for Lima as a whole,” said city planner Mariana Alegre.

Apartment blocks built for the athletes will now be the center of a social housing program.

Several sporting facilities built-in run-down neighborhoods are set to become points for urban renewal. But it won’t be easy for Lima to follow the example set by London after it hosted the 2012 Olympics.

“We have much more inequality and much more lack of services, such as water and sanitation, so we do have to work harder to make the legacy of the Pan Americans work better for us and in the end benefit everyone involved in the process,” said Alegre.

But getting first-class pitches and pools won’t get easier overnight. A 2018 study ranks Lima as the third worst city for traffic in the world.

And the chronic lack of public transportation remains a daily challenge for the city.