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Pan American Games Officially Drop Colombia as Host Country


Colombia Pan America Games
Colombia officially loses hosting of the Pan American Games – Credit: Public Domain

Barranquilla, Colombia, will no longer host the 2027 Pan American Games. This decision, announced by Panam Sports in early January, follows Colombia’s failure to meet its contractual obligations. Despite weeks of negotiations, efforts by the Colombian government to have Barranquilla reinstated as the host city were unsuccessful. Panam Sports has declared the decision final, marking an end to Barranquilla’s role in the upcoming games.

In an official announcement yesterday, it was disclosed that Asuncion and Lima are contenders for hosting the 2027 Pan American Games, succeeding Barranquilla as potential hosts. This revelation has ignited considerable criticism in Colombia directed at President Gustavo Petro’s administration. In response, Petro has blamed the administration of his predecessor, Ivan Duque, claiming that financial mismanagement starting in 2021, during Duque’s term, led to the loss of the games.

Reaction comes late

On January 3, Panam Sports announced that it was withdrawing the organization of the Pan American Games from Colombia, due to repeated non-compliance with the payment schedule that had been renegotiated at Colombia’s request. Since then, several Colombian authorities have tried to reverse the decision, but to no avail.

The statement affirms the selection process for the next major sporting event following the Olympic Games. According to a definitive announcement from Panam Sports, “The capitals of Paraguay and Peru have officially submitted their applications, and one of them will be chosen as the host city for the historic XX Pan American Games,” as reported by the international organization representing the 41 American National Olympic Committees.

Athletes across Colombia have expressed disappointment over the decision, marking yet another instance where the nation has missed out on hosting a significant international sporting event. Carlos Mario Oquendo, a silver medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, voiced his criticism concerning the missed opportunity.

“It is very sad that Colombian sport has lost the Pan American Games, knowing that we already had them at home and knowing that they will no longer be held…. it is sports infrastructure that is lost, it is support for athletes that is lost, it is the issue of having new competitions. I believe that this will delay the growth of the sport,” he lamented.

The political uproar, already significant in January, once again directs blame squarely at the government and the management of the presidency.

President Petro holds his predecessor accountable

For his part, President Gustavo Petro has blamed the loss of the games on his predecessor in office, President Ivan Duque (2018-2022). “This is the letter that Neven Ilic president of Panam Sports sent me. In it you can see all the breaches that start from the year 2021 when Barranquilla was designated as the venue,” Petro has written in his social networks.

The head of state has claimed that the decision of Panam Sports was already taken before the default on payments. “My government agreed in a meeting with Mr. Neven and the city of Barranquilla to pay everything owing with a deadline of January 30 of this year. Despite the fact that my government would pay what was owed before that date, Panam Sports unilaterally took the venue away from Barranquilla because they had a commitment with the city of Asuncion”, said Gustavo Petro, who described the decision as a “mockery to Colombia”.

For his part, Ivan Duque simply reposted a publication by his former secretary general to the presidency in 2021, Ivan Muñoz. Duque’s former senior official asked the current head of state to “assume responsibilities”, after 18 months in government. Muñoz cited several arguments that pass the responsibility for what happened exclusively to the current government’s management.

Muñoz asserted that “blaming others is not governing”, insisting that “we lost the games due to the ignorance and fear of their officials”, as, he said, President Petro had acknowledged in January.

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