Santiago ‘ready to host’ 2023 Pan American Games

SANTIAGO – Chile’s Sports Minister Pablo Squella has promised that Santiago will be a reliable choice to host the 2023 edition of the Pan American Games.

The minister believes that hosting the Games for the first time will help boost sport across the South American country.

The former journalist and middle distance runner is leading a delegation here this week to promote a Chilean bid that is the only candidate left in the race following the withdrawal of Buenos Aires.

Squella, Chilean Olympic Committee President Neven Ilic and Mayor of the Santiago Metropolitan Region Claudio Orrego are all due to present the bid at Tuesday’s Pan American Sports Organization General Assembly.

The capital city is expected to be officially confirmed as host at another General Assembly in Lima in late September.

“This has been a big goal for Chile to be the host city for the Pan American Games,” Mr. Squella was quoted by Inside The Games as saying.

“We failed to organize these Games in 1975 and 1987.

“This is our third chance to organize it and I want to be the minister to start this and to organize the biggest sporting event ever held in our country.”

Squella added: “We have a new sport policy so this comes at exactly the right moment. Our goal is to increase participation in sport and also to develop high performance athletes.

“We have hosted big events over the last few years like South American Championships [in 2014] and we have knowledge to organize big games.

“This would be a big goal because it would be double or triple Santiago 2014, but I think we are ready.

“We have enough experience and we can do well.”

Squella is a former track and field athlete who won the South American Games 400 metres hurdles title in 1986 before moving up in distance.

He finished fifth in the 800m and the 400m hurdles at the 1987 Pan American Games before competing over two laps at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

The 53-year-old claims that a Presidential election in Chile scheduled for November this year will have no potential impact on preparations.

“Although these Games will be organized by two governments [this one and the next one] we are sure that there is full support,” Squella said.

“Both sides – the left and the right – their leaders love sports. So we are in good shape.”