(ATR) Leaders of Panam Sports have more confidence in the delivery of the Lima 2019 Pan American Games following a recent Coordination Commission visit and presentation by organizers given in Prague, Czech Republic.
Led by president Carlos Neuhaus, Lima 2019 is beginning to right the ship after a rocky start caused by two changes in the leadership of the organizing committee in the span of a year. With Neuhaus in place since September 2016, the organization has made significant strides in preparing for the Pan Ams.
Neuhaus tells Around the Rings he has been most impressed with the commitment of his team to deliver under a tight deadline.
"Of course they get paid, but the people I have working could be making much more money in the private sector," he told ATR after delivering a presentation to the Panam Sports General Assembly on Nov. 4.
"But the commitment to the country is a once in a lifetime experience. Sometimes I get out of the office at 1900 and I still see people working."
A gathering of Panam Sports’ 41 National Olympic Committee leaders in Miami in June led to major concerns that infrastructure projects for the Pan Ams would not be completed in time. Since that meeting, Lima 2019 has developed a government-to-government agreement with the United Kingdom to help deliver all projects in time.
The first success of this collaboration came to fruition with construction of the Pan American Village beginning in September, the primary cause of concern in the organization of the Games. Four more venue clusters now have tenders out for their construction or refurbishment with assistance from UK government consultants.
Lima 2019’s detailed presentation to the Panam Sports General Assembly in Prague after the ANOC General Assembly included information about each of the venue clusters that will be used and the construction progress of each. No questions were posed to Neuhaus following the presentation which he believes is a positive sign.
"People applauded, it looks like they were satisfied," he told ATR. "In reality, nothing is perfect and there is a lot of room for improvement and we have to keep on going, that’s the main message for us, let’s keep on pushing."
Panam Sports President Neven Ilic reiterated this message when speaking to the assembly.
"Today, after six months we are more optimistic about the Games, they have done many important updates," Ilic said. "We don’t have enough time and we have to work day by day closely with them. We will work with COPAL every day to give our best advice to give good Games because this is the best product we have."
Before the general assembly, Lima 2019 Coordination Commission chairman Keith Joseph and Technical Commission chairman inspected the preparations with their teams in the beginning of October. Joseph supported the words of Ilic and said the commissions are also very optimistic in the completion of all projects before July 2019.
"I was a little bit more optimistic than many of my colleagues with regard to the capacity of Lima to deliver," Joseph told the assembly. "I say that because I’ve never known of any of our hosts of the Pan Ams two years out to be fully ready. We are accustomed going to Games and finding you may get a bit of paint on your pants because they just completed something.
"After our visit the 9-10 October, we came away a lot more confident that the Organizing Committee had put its hands firmly on the wheel and were in control of what was happening," Joseph emphasized. "We left feeling more confident because we had an organization structure we felt comfortable with."
With less than two years left until the Games, much remains for the Peruvian organizers. However, the Athletes’ Village is expected to be completed by February 2019 with all remaining venues by March 2019.
The Lima 2019 Pan Am Games are scheduled for July 26 to Aug. 11, with 6,700 athletes competing in 39 sports. The Parapan Am Games will be held from Aug. 23 to Sep. 1.
Written by Kevin Nutley
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