The history of the
Pan American Sports organization

Formed in 1948, the Pan American Sports Organization has been leading the Olympic Movement of the Americas for more than 70 years. The organization’s primary mission is staging the Pan American Games every four years.

Since 1951, these Games have united the countries of the Americas and many of the best athletes the world has ever seen. Athletes such as Michael Jordan, Elaine Thompson, Teofilo Stevenson, Marta, Carl Lewis, Yulimar Rojas, Hugo Sanchez, Alyson Felix and Felix Sanchez have set new records, inspired generations and catapulted their careers to the next level at the Pan Am Games.

  • 1948

    The Pan American Sports Organization is created and recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Avery Brundage of the United States serves as the first President.

  • 1951

    The first Pan American Games are held in Buenos Aires, Argentina where 21 countries and 2,513 athletes made history. Argentina topped the podium at the 1st Pan Am Games.

    That same year, the Organization elects its second President, General Jose Clark Flores of Mexico.

  • 1955

    Mexico receives the 2nd edition of the Pan American Games. The sports festival welcomes 22 countries and 2,583 athletes, with the United States totaling the most medals. The U.S. delivers the Organization’s 3rd President, Douglas Roby that same year.

  • 1959

    The U.S. hosts the Games for the 1st time in Chicago, Illinois. Twenty-two countries and 2,263 athletes compete in the Games with the U.S. once again victorious.

    Jose Clark Flores assumes the PASO Presidency for the 2nd time and holds the position until his death in 1971.

  • 1963

    The 4th Pan American Games come to Sao Paulo, Brazil. While the number of countries at the Games remained the same, the number of athletes fell considerably to 1,665.

  • 1967

    The 5th edition of the most important sporting event in the Americas is held in Winnipeg, Canada. A total of 29 countries and 2,361 athletes participate in the Games. The U.S. wins once again thanks to many world records in the swimming events.

  • 1971

    Sylvio de Magalhaes assumes the interim Presidency after the death of General Clark Flores.

    Venezuelan Jose Beracasa becomes the new President for a four-year term.

    The 6th Pan American Games are held in Cali, Colombia. A new record of 32 countries compete with 3,000 athletes.

  • 1975

    The President of the Mexican Olympic Committee, Mario Vázquez Raña, is elected President of the Organization, a position he would occupy for the next 40 years.

    Mexico City becomes the 1st city to host the Pan Am Games twice with 33 countries and 3,146 athletes competing.

  • 1979

    PASO President Mario Vázquez Raña is elected President of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).

    The Pan American Games are held for the first time in the Caribbean. San Juan, Puerto Rico welcomes a record of 3,700 athletes from 34 nations.

  • 1983

    The 9th edition of the Pan Am Games is held in Caracas, Venezuela. Among the 3,426 athletes was the young American basketball player who would soon become the most important and recognizable athlete in history — Michael Jordan.

  • 1987

    The Pan Am Games return to the United States. Indianapolis, Indiana hosts 39 countries with athletes competing in a record 34 sports.

  • 1991

    Cuba becomes a 1st-time host of the Pan Am Games in the capital of Havana. The Host Nation tops the medal table at these historical Games with 140 gold medals.

  • 1995

    Mar del Plata, Argentina hosts the 1995 Pan Am Games where the U.S. returns to the continental throne. More than 5,000 athletes compete at the Games for the first time.

  • 1999

    Winnipeg becomes a two-time host of the Pan Am Games by welcoming athletes to the 13th edition of the Games.

  • 2002

    PASO President Mario Vázquez Raña is elected as an IOC Member.

  • 2003

    Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic throws a true celebration for the 14th edition of the Games where national idol Felix Sanchez shines on his home stage.

  • 2005

    PASO establishes its offices in Mexico City that remains the Organization’s headquarters to this day.

  • 2007

    Brazil organizes its 2nd Pan Am Games in the city of Rio de Janeiro. These Games serve as the prelude to the Rio 2016 Olympics just nine years later.

  • 2011

    Mexico receives the Pan Am Games for the 3rd time in history, this time in Guadalajara. The outstanding Opening and Closing Ceremonies mark these as some of the best Games in history.

  • 2015

    PASO President Mario Vázquez Raña passes away on February 8. Vice President Ivar Sisniega assumes the position of interim President.

    Uruguayan Olympic Committee and FINA President Julio Maglione is elected PASO President for the remainder of Vázquez Raña’s term.

    Ontario’s capital of Toronto in Canada welcomes the Pan Am Games with a record of 6,332 athletes from 41 countries.

  • 2017

    Neven Ilic of Chile is elected PASO President at the General Assembly in Punta del Este, Uruguay on April 26.

    President Neven Ilic is elected as a Member of the International Olympic Committee months later at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru.

  • 2018

    A new era begins as President Neven Ilic oversees the rebranding of the Organization to Panam Sports, complete with a new image, style and name.

  • 2019

    The Pan Am Games are held in Lima, Peru for the first time with historic performances from countries throughout the continent, especially by the Host Nation with its first ever top-10 finish.

    The first Panam Sports Awards are held in Fort Lauderdale, USA in celebration of the historic achievements at the 18th edition of the Pan Am Games held in the Peruvian capital.

  • 2020

    Panam Sports President Neven Ilic is re-elected to another 4-year term as the leader of the Organization in the first ever digital General Assembly held due to the worldwide pandemic.

  • 2021

    The first Junior Pan American Games in history are held in Cali, Colombia celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Cali 1971 Pan Am Games and marking the start of a new chapter for sports development in the Americas.

    President Neven Ilic establishes new Panam Sports offices in Santiago, Chile and Miami, USA to increase accessibility and productivity for the Olympic Movement of the Americas.

  • 2023

    Santiago, Chile prepares to welcome the continent’s most important multisport event for the 1st time in its history.