The year 2020 was not kind to sports, but 2021 is set up to be a grand year, including the proposed first-ever staging of the Junior Pan American Games.
It is an international multi-sports event similar to the Pan Am Games, only on the junior side, created for athletes from the Americas between the ages of 18-21. Approximately 1,000 young athletes from 41 member countries of the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO), of which The Bahamas is a member, are expected to compete in 313 events in 27 sports.
The games are set for September 9-19, in what is respected as the worldwide capital of salsa, Cali, Colombia. The opening and closing ceremonies will be held at the Pascual Guerrero Stadium.
“We have very high expectations. The Pan Am brand is associated with the high quality senior games but we expect the junior games to be just as grand and no less significant,” said Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) President Romell “Fish” Knowles. The BOC is the lead organization for multi-sport events for Bahamian athletes.
“I anticipate that we will have a fair contingent representing The Bahamas at these games,” said Knowles. “Young athletes will get an opportunity to meet what could be life-long friends and to compete in a safe and secured environment. Also, I anticipate that high school and college coaches will be at these games which bodes well for our young athletes in terms of scholarship opportunities.”
Despite heavy restrictions due to the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, and safety and social distancing measures in place, Knowles anticipates the make-up of a sizable team from The Bahamas competing in at least 10 sporting disciplines. He said he is pleased with the guidelines that the host city has implemented in advance of the games and looks forward to a grand event.
“This is a great forum to put on these games. The host city is working magnificently to pull off these events which I believe will be a spectacular event for our junior athletes,” he said. “We look forward to these games in great anticipation and The Bahamas will be well represented. Of course, all of this is contingent on whether or not we will be able to have the qualifying events in time, and of course the effect of COVID-19 in the region. If the qualifying events do not occur, the international federations will come up with a process to invite NOCs (National Olympic Committees) through their respective national federations. It’s a lil hazy right now, but I believe that as soon as possible, qualifying events will happen so that athletes could begin the process.”
Just this week, authorities of Panam Sports performed a site visit to sports venues in Cali following the opening of Colombia’s borders and met with the organizing committee of the games in which details about transportation, catering, volunteering, protocol and security, among others, were presented.
Panam Sports released a statement which they expressed their optimism and pleasure with the progress of the development of sports venues, the work that is being done, and the items in place for a successful staging of the games. According to the statement, the Cali 2021 Junior Pan American Games are on the right track and Colombia, the Cauca Valley Department, Cali and Panam Sports are 100 percent committed to ensure the games is an unforgettable celebration.
The Panam Sports General Assembly will be held virtually for the first time in history this December 15 and 16. During the assembly, Cali Valle 2021, the organizing committee of the games, will make a formal presentation on the progress achieved in the organization of the Junior Pan American Games to the delegates of the National Olympic Committee members of Panam Sports, the Pan American Confederations and special guests.
The next visit to Cali by the Panam Sports Coordination Commission has been scheduled for February 2021.