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HAROLD MAYNE-NICHOLLS: “I AM 100% SURE WE’RE MOVING FORWARD WITH THE GAMES IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE”

The new Executive Director of Santiago 2023 spoke with Panam Sports about this great challenge that he has accepted. He fully trusts the Games will be successful and sends a message of calm to all of the athletes, leaders and fans.

With a little more than four months to go until the start of the Pan American Games, for the Santiago 2023 Corporation presents its new Executive Director following the resignation of Gianna Cunazza earlier this week. Now, prominent sports leader Harold Mayne-Nicholls has been tapped for the position, known for his work as the former President of Chilean Football and for his various roles at FIFA over the years.

The 61-year-old journalist received a call a few days ago from the Chilean Sports Minister, Jaime Pizarro, inviting him to lead the Santiago 2023 Corporation that is responsible for delivering the Pan American Games this October and November.

He admits that he was initially surprised, but then accepted the proposal without much analysis.

“I am very content with this very big challenge that brings a lot of responsibility. But I have a great desire to give my maximum effort to deliver everything related to this event,” said Harold Mayne-Nicholls.

What does it mean to you that the Pan American Games are taking place in Chile this year?

“It is a unique opportunity that we have in the country to leave a legacy for the next generation. It is an organizational legacy, an administrative legacy, but mainly a sporting legacy. I hope that the new generations understand that physical activity and sport is an important asset to live better lives, that would mean a lot to me.”

You come from the football world, and many Chileans say that this event is the most important in this country since the 1962 World Cup. Do you agree with that?

“No, I would say that in the last century it was the 1962 World Cup and in this century it is the Pan American Games. Both are impressive events, one after a tragedy as great as the one experienced with the 1960 earthquake and the other at such a special moment in the entire world after the great pandemic that affected the globe. The two are the most important events that Chile has had, without a doubt.”

What would you say to people who doubt that the projects will be delivered on time?

“Believe in us. Since the Munich 1972 Olympic Games, there was always a tendency to doubt whether or not the Games would arrive on time in terms of infrastructure, and the same thing has happened with the Pan American Games. It is like this, because the projects take time, the work cannot be accelerated and since it cannot be accelerated, we must believe in the new schedule that the experts on the subject give us and they have guaranteed to us that they will be delivered on time. We are on the right foot to be able to arrive on time and to be able to meet all the requirements of Panam Sports and also of the Chilean community to make these Games a great, great event.”

One of those construction experts is the President of Panam Sports, Neven Ilic, a Civil Engineer by profession and also a very close friend of yours. Have you had contact with him?

“We grew up together and we are lifelong friends. The coincidences of life brought the sports world to both of us and now it’s hard to imagine that Neven is the leader of sport in the Americas and that I have been given this responsibility. I always have contact with him and he was one of the first to ask me if the news was true, and then he congratulated me.”

How do you view these four months leading up to the Games?

“Personally, and knowing myself, they are going to be a little exhausting. In the organization, what I hope is to achieve that all the pieces of the puzzle become a single great piece and there are no islands. We need to be one single great organization with great teamwork. I am 100% sure we’re moving forward with the Games in the best way possible.”

What would be your message to the more than 7,000 athletes who will come to Chile to participate in these Games?

“We are waiting for each and every one of you, and I hope you come with your best spirits, with all your energy and all your desire. But I also want to invite you to come and enjoy the benefits of our country. It will be an unforgettable celebration for all of you. To the Presidents and Secretaries General of the National Olympic Committees, I also encourage you to remain calm. We are working at full speed and to the best of our abilities to give all our energy so that when you and your athletes come you can enjoy the Games but also everything that this country has to offer you. See you this October.”