(ATR) Weightlifters from the Americas meet for the first time in person in more than a year.
This Sunday the best weightlifters on the continent, men and women, gather in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to contest the XXIX Pan American Championship, postponed from last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Less than 100 days before the also postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo, some 300 athletes from more than 25 nations will be chasing medals as well as the necessary points that bring them closer to Olympic qualification.
"There is a lot of expectation and many wishes of the athletes to participate, to feel again the tension of the live competition, of that shared atmosphere of the crowbar, the discs, the platform, ..." José Quiñones, president of the Pan American Federation, tells Around the Rings.
"We hope good marks and improvement and that the tournament will help the best in America reach the Olympic Games," adds Quiñones, also president of the South American Weightlifting Confederation and one of the vice-presidents of the IWF.
The Pan American director has been aware for weeks of the preparations of all the national federations to guarantee their trips to Santo Domingo in the midst of the sanitary and migratory restrictions in each country. He is confident that the event will take place as planned.
"The organizers have assured us that together with their Ministry of Health they are carrying out the corresponding protocols and ensure a competition in which the physical integrity of the athlete will always be protected," says Quiñones.
The president of the Dominican Federation, William Ozuna, confirms to ATR his confidence in the measures adopted for the week-long event that will take place in the Weightlifting Pavilion of Parque del Este, a complex built for the 2003 Pan American Games.
Ozuna affirms that in order to obtain authorization from health officials and the Government to organize the competition, "we had to meet many requirements".
The event will be done with the "bubble" formula. All delegations will be in the same hotel, located in a secluded place about 30 minutes from the competition venue.
All participants have been required to have a negative COVID test.
"At this very moment, tests are being carried out on all support personnel, drivers, security forces, and others. The buses that will transport the delegations, with a capacity for 50 passengers, were reduced to 20," reports Ozuna.
The Weightlifting Pavilion, with capacity for 2,900 people, will allow a maximum audience of only 250 spectators. There will be strict control in the access to the competition and warm-up areas, and the use of masks and social distancing will be required, as well as disinfection on the buses and the competition stage and at the hotel.
"Together with us, the Ministries of Health and Tourism are determined that everything goes well," says Ozuna. The assembly of the championship has been the responsibility of an Organizing Committee chaired by the Minister of Education, Roberto Fulcar
This will be the last Americas qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
In addition, the championship will open qualifying for the next Central American and Caribbean Games, which could be held in either Mayagüez (Puerto Rico) in May 2022 or San Salvador (El Salvador) in March 2023. A decision on that is expected to be made by the Executive Committee of Centro Caribe Sportsin the next few days.
Written and reported by Miguel Hernandez
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