75 YEARS PROMOTING, DEVELOPING AND UNITING SPORTS IN THE AMERICAS
Today, August 8, the Pan American Sports Organization celebrates exactly 75 years since its creation and official recognition by the International Olympic Committee.
On this day 75 years ago, a group of visionary sports leaders met to create a a non-profit organization that would bring together the majority of the National Olympic Committees of the continent and watch over the interests of sports in the region as well as create a world-class sporting event to showcase the best athletes of the Americas.
Thus, three years after its creation in 1951, the first Pan American Games in history were held in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The first Pan American Games featured 2,513 athletes from 21 countries led by the Host Nation of Argentina at the top of the medal table. Then it was Mexico City’s turn to host the games in 1955, followed by Chicago 1959 and Sao Paulo 1963, with the continent’s largest cities lining up to host the most important sporting event in the Americas as it continued to grow.
This multi-sport event blossomed and has become the world’s most important multisport Games behind the Olympic Games. In less than half a century, participating countries, sports and the number of athletes doubled.
In total, the Organization has been led by nine Presidents. The first of these was Avery Brundage from the United States. Mario Vasquez Raña of Mexico has the distinction of longest term in office with more than 40 years at the helm. Mexico’s Jesus Clark Flores is the only one to have served two different terms as President. The Organization has been led by three been interim Presidents in Sylvio Magalhaes from Brazil, Ivar Sisniega from Mexico and Julio Maglione from Uruguay, with the latter being the predecessor of the current President of the Organization, Neven Ilic Alvarez from Chile.
One of its main objectives, which have been successfully met during these 75 years of history, has been to spread Olympism in America as defined in the Olympic Charter. The Organization works closely with the IOC, ANOC, the International Sports Federations, the Pan American Sports Confederations and other Continental Associations of the NOCs to ensure this goal is met.
“This anniversary fills us with pride. There are 75 years of work, effort and passion of many people over time: all the former Presidents, the members of the Executive Committees, the NOC leaders, the athletes, the coaches and staff of our Organization. I want to thank all of them from the bottom of my heart for everything they have done to make this Organization what it is today. My congratulations to all of them, and I urge all of us who currently belong to Panam Sports to continue this legacy that our predecessors have left us and to work hard for our sport and our athletes in the Americas,” said Panam Sports President Neven Ilic.
Panam Sports has also worked hard throughout the continent, focusing on contributing to the education of youth through sports in the spirit of better understanding, friendship, solidarity and respect for the environment, thereby contributing to the development of a more peaceful and harmonious world.
Helping and guiding its 41 Member countries and their athletes is also of the utmost importance, offering two important sporting events every four years including the Pan American Games and the Junior Pan American Games.
Seventy-five years have passed since the birth of this great Organization. In total, 18 Pan American Games have been held, 14 countries have hosted this sports festival and thousands of athletes from all over the Americas have benefited from the incredible support, scholarships and training programs that it has organized over the years.
Some of the greatest athletes in the history of the world have been the stars of past Pan American Games, including: Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis, Javier Sotomayor, Shannon Miller, Michael Jordan, Thiago Pereira, Luciana Aymar, Donovan Bailey, Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce and Mijain Lopez, among many others who have inspired millions throughout our 75-year history.
Today, Panam Sports has an incredibly bright future, with new projects, significant economic stability and worldwide recognition that makes it possible to dream big. The entire Pan American family is preparing for the 19th version of the Pan American Games that will be held for the first time in Santiago, Chile this October and November.
Santiago 2023 promises to be an event that promises to break all records, with more than 6,900 athletes, more than 1,900 hours of live broadcast and more Olympic qualifiers than ever before with 31 sports offering passage to Paris 2024.
We invite you to join this celebration, to enjoy our next great event at Santiago 2023 and to be part of the history of our organization.
Panam Sports — We are the Olympic Movement of America, 75 years uniting the continent through Sport.
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.
2000: 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: For the first time in history and fulfilling one of President Ilic’s dreams, the I Junior Pan American Games are organized in the city of Cali, Colombia. 41 countries and more than 3,000 athletes between the ages of 14 and 23 participate in this sports festival that offered qualification to the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games for 202 athletes.
That same year, the city of Barranquilla, Colombia, is chosen as the Host City for the 2027 Pan American Games.
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.
2022: Asuncion, Paraguay is chosen to host the next Junior Pan American Games in 2027.
2023: Panam Sports and the entire Pan American Family prepare for the XIX Pan American Games in history which, for the first time in history, will be hosted in Santiago, Chile.