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  • On the Scene - Guadalajara Venues Ready, Adios for Netherlands Antilles, Hurricane Watch


    The IAAF certified the track for the Pan Am Games on Tuesday.(Getty)
    Pan Am Games Win Track Certification

    All venues for the 2011 Pan Ams should be certified by the start of the Games this week, Michael Fennell, president of the PASO technical commission told delegates on the final day of the PASO Assembly in Guadalajara.

    The IAAF certified the athletics track on Tuesday morning, erasing an area of great concern, he said.

    Fennell says the velodrome, which underwent modifications, should receive the green light from the UCI later Tuesday, which would be the last of the venues to be certified by their respective international federations.

    “These were difficult years,” PASO president Mario Vazquez Rana said as he reflected on the road to Guadalajara in a final report to the PASO assembly ahead of the Oct. 14 opening ceremony.

    Of the 1,960 days that organizers worked on the Pan American Games, he said, “I believe about 1,000 of those days we had problems.”

    “I acted, maybe not nasty, but very demanding with Guadalajara, until I saw the light at the end of the tunnel that will lead us out. That’s when I said I think we have achieved something positive and this is why, personally, I am very satisfied to reach the end of this report for today.”

    The competition will begin Saturday for the first of 6,003 athletes in 36 sports. Fifteen of the disciplines are qualifiers for the 2012 Olympic Games.

    “They have really done a magnificent job in completing most of the requirements to date,” Fennell said.

    However, he said the number of athletes over quota raises “certain problems in the future for PASO. Despite the best efforts in agreeing to quotas within various federations, it is very difficult to control, especially with sports growing in quality among smaller countries.”

    The final number of athletes is 48 over quota, said Ivar Sisniega, director of sports and operations. He said adjustments were being made in the village and some the equestrian athletes over quota would find other accommodations.

    Hurricane Watch

    Vazquez Rana updated the assembly on Hurricane Jova, which was bearing down on western Mexico with winds of up to 125 mph.

    He said it was not coming straight to Puerto Vallarta, site of the sailing and beach volleyball competitions, but would bring a lot of rain and wind.

    “The sailing boats are stowed away,” he said. “The beach volleyball stadium has been protected and the athletes continue training on courts in the host hotel. We are on top of this issue and we hope that this will not affect the development of the sports competition.”

    Vazquez Rana later added that he received a report that the hurricane had changed course from Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta and was heading north.

    “Whatever way this hurricane is coming, we just have to be ready for it,” he said.

    “I always say that storms are very sad because of the result, but whatever brings us water is important for our humanity. So it’s not necessarily always a bad thing despite the negative results it can have, but we don’t want one during the Pan American Games.”

    Rio 2016 

    In his update on the Rio 2016 Games, OCOG president Carlos Nuzman spoke of the Olympic Games as the greatest legacy of the 2007 Pan
    American Games. That event proved Rio de Janeiro could stage a large sporting extravaganza. Many of the venues will be used again in some capacity for the Olympics.

    Nuzman brought the PASO assembly up to date on preparations for the venues, including the renovation of Maracana Stadium, and transportation and infrastructure plans.

    Rio 2016 is emphasizing five main pillars: technical excellence, memorable celebration, global image of Brazil, transformation though sport, and growth of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements.

    Nuzman said 200 people are currently working in the organizing committee. That number will reach 270 by the end of the year and rise to 4,000 by Games time.

    Farewell from Netherlands Antilles

    A good bye to PASO from Netherlands Antilles. The collection of islands of the northeast coast of South America is no longer recognized by the IOC after moving back under the governance of the Netherlands as municipalities of the kingdom.

    The IOC formally dissolved the
    Netherlands Antilles Secretary General Imro van Wilgen says farewell to PASO. (ATR)
    NOC at the session in Durban in July and this week’s PASO assembly in Guadalajara will be the last time Netherlands Antilles holds a seat at meetings of the continental association.

    The 11 athletes from Netherlands Antilles will be allowed to compete in Guadalajara under the PASO flag. Similarly in London next year Netherlands Antilles will participate under the IOC flag.

    Secretary General Imro van Wilgen bade farewell to PASO in a speech to the assembly Tuesday that was greeted with a standing ovation.

    He lamented the demise of the NOC for its impact on athletes.

    “The fact we are no longer recognized by the IOC has made us lose the support of sponsors in our country and also the government,” said van Wilgen.

    “Only the high level athletes will be able to compete with an orange flag and orange uniform, singing the Dutch anthem and holding an orange, blue and white flag.

    “But always they will have a heart that beats to the rhythm of the Caribbean drums,” he said.

    2012 PASO General Assembly

    The PASO General Assembly will return to Mexico next year, although a city has not been designated. This would be the fifth straight year Mexico has hosted the gathering.

    Julio Maglione of Uruguay, whose country was also considered for the meeting, said it was only fitting that the assembly be held in Mexico because Vazquez Rana is running for re-election as president.

    Maglione said that it would have been a great honor to go to Punta del Este, “but it must be done here in Mexico where Mario Vazquez Rana was elected for the first time.”

    Acapulco, where the ANOC general assembly was held in April, is a possible site because of the short turnaround time. Vazquez Rana said that the PASO General Assembly should be held in April, or possibly March. The calendar is crowded in April with the ANOC meeting in Moscow.

    Written and reported in Guadalajara by Ed Hula and Karen Rosen.
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