FROM PASO TO PANAM SPORTS: UNITING SPORTS IN AMERICA FOR 70 YEARS
On August 8, the Pan American Sports Organization turns 70 years old after its creation and official recognition by the International Olympic Committee in 1948.
At that time, a group of visionary sports leaders met to create a sports entity that would gather the majority of the National Olympic Committees of the continent to create a Non-Profit Organization to look after the interests of sport in the region and, at the same time, create a high-level sporting event with the best athletes of the Americas.
With this in mind in 1951, three years after the creation of PASO, the first Pan American Games in history took place in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Twenty-one countries and 2,513 athletes participated in that first edition, with the host country Argentina finishing at the top of the medal table. The Games turned to Mexico City’s for the second edition, followed by Chicago and Sao Paulo as the biggest cities of the Americas became more interested in hosting the most important sporting event of the continent.
With each successful edition, the Pan American Games grew more important and were second only to the Olympic Games. In less than half a century, the number of participating countries and athletes, as well as the number of sports, has doubled. At the Mar del Plata 1995 Pan Am Games, the benchmark of 5,000 athletes was surpassed for the first time.
In the last edition of the Pan American Games, in Toronto, a new record number of athletes was reached with nearly 7,000 athletes competing at the Games.
Seventy years have elapsed since the birth of this great organization, with a total of nine Presidents, 17 Pan American Games, 13 host countries and thousands of athletes from all over the Americas who have benefited from the innumerable support programs, scholarships, and training that the organization has provided over time.
Today the former PASO, now known as Panam Sports, has a community of 41 National Olympic Committees and an auspicious outlook, with new projects, economic stability and worldwide recognition that allows the organization to dream big.
“We are proud of this anniversary. These have been 70 years of hard work, effort and passion of many people over time: all the Presidents, the members of the Executive Committees, the authorities of the NOCs, the athletes, coaches and officials of this organization. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for all 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 the Panam Sports family to follow the legacy left by our predecessors and to work hard for our sport and our athletes from America,” said Panam Sports President, Neven Ilic.
Former Interim President and current Secretary General, Ivar Sisniega, is emphatic in his recognition of the anniversary.
“I would like to congratulate the Pan American Sports Organization and all the National Olympic Committees that comprise it, for celebrating 70 years of uniting sport of America through 17 uninterrupted editions of the Pan American Games, one of the most important multi-sport events in the world. This organization has been distinguished by the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity among its members and is stronger than ever, so we can see a great future promoting sport in our continent.”
The Pan American Sports Organization is preparing to make a qualitative and quantitative leap. Under the leadership of Neven Ilic, Panam Sports must first focus on the tremendous challenge and opportunities of the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. But that is no longer the sole focus of the organization. Panam Sports is preparing more events such as the Youth Pan American Games, Beach Games and the Panam Sports Gala, among many other established activities that can be found in the Strategic Plan 2018-2023.
The Pan American Sports Organization, Uniting Sports in America for 70 years.