Thomas Bach Voices Support to Cochabamba 2018

(ATR) IOC president records a message of confidence in Spanish ahead of the South American Games in Bolivia.

(ATR) - IOC President Thomas Bach is confident that the South American Games in Cochabamba will be a success and praises the efforts of the Bolivians and South Americans in general for organizing the event.

His words come from a message recorded in Spanish for those attending the current congress of the South American Sports Organization (ODESUR) in the Bolivian city.

Bach also praised the return of a South American Games to Bolivia after the celebration in La Paz in 1978 of the first event of its kind in history.

Thomas said that the IOC is an ally of ODESUR in "the struggle for a common ideal" that Bach defined as "the search for a better world through sport".

The IOC president also emphasized in his recorded message that in addition to the South American event, the next Olympic Youth Games in Buenos Aires in October will also serve to strengthen the cooperation between ODESUR and the Olympic Movement.

The South American Games of Cochabamba begin this Saturday May 26 and run until June 8.

ODESUR has expressed confidence that the event will be successful despite the political tension that these Games have generated in Bolivia.

The Governor of Cochabamba, Iván Canelas, asked for a "truce" from opponents who have denounced irregularities in contracts for the multisport event which begins on Saturday.

The president of ODESUR, Paraguayan Camilo Pérez López Moreira, told Around the Rings that his organization is "absolutely on the sidelines" of the political conflict.

He assured that the Organizing Committee (CODESUR) "is independent".

"These Games are carried out without any political intervention," he said. "So we are confident that everything will turn out perfectly."

At the opening of the ODESUR Congress, on the eve of the Games, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Governor Canelas - who is close to the president - and the interim mayor of the host city, Karen Morales, a member of an opposition political party, were all in attendance.

"As you can see the sport makes all the political forces come together," said Pérez.

On the agenda of the ODESUR General Assembly, "there is no misplaced concern," said the Paraguayan leader, who will stand for re-election in 2019.

At the meeting, reports will be heard of the organizing committees of the South American Beach Games in 2019 and the South American Youth Games in 2021, both in the Argentine city of Rosario.

They will also inform the sports authorities of Asunción, Paraguay, in charge of the South American Games of 2022. Camilo Pérez is also the president of the Olympic Committee of Paraguay.

As for the games in Cochabamba,Camilo Pérez denied "tensions" due to delays in the completion of sports facilities and revealed that only one venue, that of field hockey, may not be ready on time.

But he hopes that the placement of the synthetic court will allow the start of the tournament as planned. It is only a "small delay," he said.

The local press had shown concern with the squash complex, the municipal skating rink, the BMX circuit and a field at the Félix Capriles stadium.

In total, there will be 43 venues used for South American Games in Cochabamba, which begins on May 26 and ends on June 8.

The sports program includes 35 disciplines and 377 events, with 4030 athletes from 14 countries participating, along with 1,600 officials and 900 referees.

Bolivia seeks to emulate its record in the first South American Games of 1978, the only time the country has hosted the event until now. That year Bolivian athletes won 106 medals, of which 20 were gold, 40 silver and 46 bronze. Bolivia finished third in the medal table behind Argentina and Brazil as the 1978 Games were held in La Paz.

Like La Paz, Cochabamba is situated at high altitude. Several delegations of athletes decided to arrive early for the Games to help acclimate themselves to competing at an altitude of 2,558 meters (8,392 feet) above sea level.

Homepage photo: Cochabamba 2018

Reported by Miguel Hernandez.