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  • On the Scene -- Pan Am Assembly Heads to Finish


    The Pan American Sports Organization General Assembly ends on Thursday. (ATR)
    London 2012, Pan Am 2015 on Agenda

    While the election of Mario Vazquez Rana was the main item for the opening day, the Pan American Sports Organization had other business Wednesday at the general assembly in Mexico City.

    Vazquez Rana updated PASO members on the London Olympics and warned them about costs in London.

    “I hope they don’t charge me for the air I breathe because they charge for everything!” he quipped. To assist NOCs, he said PASO will allocate $200,000 for the London Olympics.

    PASO Treasurer Richard Peterkin said finances of the organization are strong.

    As a result of exceeded revenue expectations the organization boosted its reserves and took in more than $800,000 from ticket sales to the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara.

    “These Games exceeded all our expectations in so many ways” he said. “The Games are resilient, they can survive tough economic times.”

    Michael Fennell, chairman of the technical commission, provided a technical update of the 2011 Pan Ams.

    He said the Games were a success and added that 43 percent of participants were women, which is similar to the gender split in the Olympics.

    Vazquez Rana announced cities that had expressed interest to bid for the 2019 Pan American Games, saying Chile; Colombia; Miami, Peru and Puerto Rico as potential candidates.

    However, Colombian IOC member and Colombia Sports Minister Andres Botero says they will not bid for the Games, instead they are focusing on the 2018 Youth Olympic Games bid from Medellin.

    Scott Blackmun, U.S. Olympic Committee C.E.O. says their stance on Pan American Games bids is the same as Olympic bids, namely that the U.S. isn't bidding right now. 

    PASO will also form a committee to investigate whether  NOCs should be barred from visiting Pan American Games bid cities. The IOC has a similar rule in place for IOC members visiting Olympic bid cities. 

    Problems with Panama, Bolivia

    Two issues surfaced including the legal status of the Panama Olympic Committee in PASO and the withholding of funds to the Bolivian Olympic Committee.

    Panama was barred entry from the General Assembly. Vazquez Rana said the POC “is in suspense but not in suspension.”

    The semantic question of “suspense” versus “suspension” was raised.

    "Panama is not our problem,” Vazquez Rana deferred. “It is a problem that is being solved between the lawyers of Panama and the lawyers of the IOC. As long as that issue is not solved we don’t know to which committee we have to address ourselves.”

    In Bolivia, he said the treasurer of the BOC is accusing other board members of stealing money.

    PASO ordered an audit to determine what actually happened to the funds.

    “I am being very careful what we ask of Bolivia. I don’t want the treasurer to just take the money and stay with it.

    “We will give the money to Bolivia the money that has been withheld as soon as this issue is resolved.”

    Toronto 2015 Update

    Toronto, hosts of the 2015 Pan American Games, said they plan to exceed the level of the Games set in Guadalajara, which Vazquez Rana called the best ever.

    “You do that with Olympic qualifiers and also making sure Canada brings its best athletes,” Toronto 2015 CEO Ian Troop said.

    “We continue to make progress, there are no shortage of issues to work on,” he added.

    “Getting our venues built on time is our key,” he said adding that venue construction is on schedule.

    The Toronto 2015 delegation received an award from Mario Vazquez Rana. (ATR)
    Sixty people are on the organizing committee staff at the moment with that number growing to 120 by autumn.

    The worldwide economic downturn has impacted Toronto 2015’s outlook, he said.

    “The climate is one of restraint. It’s an environment where we have to be extremely judicious and responsible to remember we are spending the taxpayers' money and live within our budget.”

    One highlight of the Toronto 2015 presentation, Charles Sousa, a member of the provincial parliament representing part of Toronto, addressed the General Assembly in a video. In his speech he seamlessly transitioned between English, Spanish, French and Portuguese--the four languages used in the Pan Am membership.  

    Baseball, Softball Meeting

    The leaders of the baseball and softball federations say they are “optimistic” about working together to rejoin the Olympic Program.

    At issue is a memorandum of understanding for the two sports. Both say that details still need to be worked out but they hope to finalize the agreement by the end of the month.

    “It’s a work in progress” International Softball Federation president Don Porter tells Around the Rings. “We’re trying to sort out a number of things and make sure we’re headed in the right direction.

    “That’s going to take a little while. Once we do that we’ll have a meeting with the IOC to discuss the overall issue.”

    Porter declined to name those issues citing the ongoing negotiations.

    “I think the important thing is how advantageous it is to go together.”

    Riccardo Fraccari. (ATR)
    Riccardo Fraccari, president of IBAF, the International Baseball Federation, echoed Porter’s sentiments.

    “I am confident. We can start these kinds of discussion. In many NOCs there is not the perception that baseball and softball are two different sports.”

    One potential hurdle the sports would have to overcome is two purpose-built venues. Fraccari says the joint agreement solves that problem by using one venue, which he said can be done easily.

    While differences remain between baseball and softball, Fraccari says it would be advantageous to work together.

    “Joining forces is better than splitting forces.”

    One example of this is that baseball and softball will have one booth at the Sportaccord convention in May.

    Fraccari mentioned that while there is a strong identification with baseball and the Americas, the sport is no longer confined to the region.

    “Even talking with IOC members, the image of baseball in the past was an Americas sport, but it’s not true, it’s a global sport.

    “We have to show them what we are doing.”

    PyeongChang Chief on Meeting

    Jin Sun Kim. (ATR)
    PyeongChang 2018 president Jin Sun Kim is scheduled to speak to the General Assembly on Thursday. He tells Around the Rings he sees a promising future for winter sport in the Americas.

    “Coming to events like PASO, interest in PyeongChang is the same as when we were a bid city,” he said. "At the same time I feel a great sense of responsibility.

    “We have the Dream Program. We have invited a lot of children from PASO members.

    “I believe PASO members are more interested in winter sports than before and we want more PASO members involved with PyeongChang 2018. I believe by 2018 many of the Dream Program participants will represent their countries.”

    Written and reported in Mexico City by Ed Hula III.

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