For the first time in the history of continental sport, an agenda of mission leaders for a mega event in the Americas will have as a vital point health protocols in the face of a pandemic.
Authorities of Panam Sports and the Organizing Committee of the I Pan American Junior Games Cali-Valle 2021 revealed to Around The Rings the decision to require mandatory vaccination for those involved in this event.
Details of this regulation will be explained to the representatives of the 41 NOCs summoned to the Colombian city starting tomorrow, for two days. Executives from five countries that will not be able to travel due to scheduling issues will be connected to the development of the forum by videoconference.
The general secretary of Panam Sports, Ivar Sisniega, said that immunization will be required for all participants and accredited persons 18 years of age and older.
Sisniega commented that “we are taking into account many of the lessons learned from the Tokyo Olympic Games”.
Regarding sanitary measures, he said that all participants will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at the main venue and every four days, in addition to the protocols to be followed in the event of positive cases that may be detected.
Precisely to make the Games as safe as possible, the Games were moved for two months and will be held from November 25 to December 5, 2021 with more than 3,800 athletes between 18 and 21 years old in 39 disciplines, although some events will admit participants of lesser age.
These Junior Games will be the first project of the “New Events” program implemented by the cabinet headed by Chilean Neven Ilic, who was re-elected as head of Panam Sports at the end of 2020.
Ilic contributed to the vaccination process of delegations to Tokyo 2020 by facilitating access to inoculation in the United States for Olympic athletes and junior Pan American competitors.
The president of the Cali-Valle 2021 Organizing Committee, Baltazar Medina, commented to ATR that due to the progress of immunization in the countries of the Americas, it was considered “prudent” to require the vaccination of all persons entering Colombia for the multidisciplinary event.
“First - he said - as a way to protect the Games, and secondly, of course, as solidarity of the athletes and the rest of the Pan American family with the local population and to avoid becoming a focus of contagion”.
Will spectators be allowed in the sports venues?
“The vaccination schedule in our country is on schedule, and by the end of this year we could have between 60% and 70% of the population vaccinated with two doses, so we would be very close to the so called “herd immunity”.
“In that order, we have already agreed with the mayor of Cali on an initial call of 50% of the public in the sports venues but with the expectation that if the number of Covid-19 infections and the percentage of vaccinated people improve, we could increase the access of the fans”.
Is there no concern about new disturbances like the ones in April that could affect the Games?
“For us it is a permanent concern in terms of the expectations that they will not happen again, but today we consider the issue under control”.
“Of course with the commitment of both the government authorities and the public order forces that this type of incidents do not take place and that all the requests of the demonstrators have been met so that there is no reason to insist on blocks and acts of vandalism.”
Is there a Games atmosphere in Cali and Valle de Cauca?
“There is a lot of expectation. Besides, because of the pandemic, there is also an urgency to reactivate the economy in the countries. And I believe that sport can play a very important role in the process of economic reactivation due to the high demand in the context of goods and services, especially in very depressed sectors such as air transportation, hotels and temporary jobs”.
“So the Games, apart from a great sporting event, awaken this other economic expectation.”
The Heads of Mission meeting in Cali will be held at a time when Covid-19 infection figures continue at low levels and the Valle de Cauca region is moving away from the high records reached in the third peak of the pandemic.