(ATR) The islands of the Caribbean – including Cuba — are credited with giving Toronto the edge in its victory for the 2015 Pan American Games.
Toronto won on the first round of voting at the Pan American Sports Organization general assembly held in Guadalajara, picking up 33 votes, to 11 for Lima and eight for Bogota. A majority of 27 votes was needed from the 52 ballots cast.
“It was the English-speaking islands that made the difference,” Dominican Republic NOC President Luis Mejia tells Around the Rings
While those 15 island nations (and the U.S. and Canada) provided a strong base of support for Toronto, 14 other votes would have come from nations where English is not the first language.
Cuba would be one of them says one Caribbean NOC leader familiar with the way the votes lined up. And because Cuba hosted the 1991 Pan American Games, it’s a member of the PASO club that can cast two votes.
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the U.S. are the others which get two votes for hosting Pan Ams.
Commonwealth Games solidarity also helped cement the bond among the 15 who also share PASO membership. The president of the Commonwealth Games Federation is Jamaican NOC President Michael Fennell, himself an influential leader of PASO.
The victory of Toronto came despite the presence of the first heads of state to personally lobby for a Pan Am bid, Alvaro Uribe of Colombia and Alan Garcia of Peru.
The Toronto bid was represented by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Mayor David Miller and federal sports minister Gary Lunn.
All three politicians made clear that their governments fully backed the Pan Am Games, successfully matching the same pledges made by the South American leaders.
If presentations were the rule from which to judge a bid, Toronto was well-executed with the most production elements. Along with video to sell the sizzle of the city, Toronto imagery gave the clearest picture of what the Pan Am Games would be like among the three bids.
A closing video from Toronto portrayed a trio of young athletes rising from their sleep in 1999 to train for swimming, football and track. The video jumps to 2015 and the venues of Toronto, filled with fans cheering the now-grown athletes.
A total of 11 speakers came to the podium for the 60-minute presentation for Toronto, led off and finished by Canadian Olympic Committee President Michael Chambers. He emphasized his long involvement with PASO as a way to ask the trust of delegates.
The only Spanish speaker for Toronto was a heavyweight Anatol Von Hahn, executive vice president for Scotia Bank. The bank not only supports the Toronto bid; last month Scotia Bank became the biggest sponsor so far for the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, a deal believed to be worth a few million dollars.
Guadalajara, with its somewhat troubled path to the 2011 Pan Ams, may also have tipped the 2015 race to a city that seemed best-suited to deliver anxiety-free games.
Carlos Nuzman of Brazil, leader of the successful bid from Rio for the 2007 Pan American Games which led to winning the 2016 Olympics last month, says he was impressed with Toronto.
“I think they had a good presentation. They deserved to win,” he says.
He says he stands ready to assist the Canadians with his experience from the 2007 games. And he says it would not be out of the question for talk to start about a Toronto bid for the Summer Olympics, just as Rio de Janeiro parlayed its Pan Am Games into the 2016 Olympics.
Nuzman adds that the 2015 Pan Am Games, coming on the one year mark to the Rio Olympics, should help increase interest in 2016.
Ivan Dibos, Peru IOC member and senior adviser to the Lima bid says the NOC is now interested in pursuing other international sports events such as the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. He says another Pan Am bid is possible although he admits he and others with the 2015 bid may not be young enough to try for 2019, to be decided in four years.
Given the north-south tug in PASO, it’s logical to expect that choice would go to South or Central America, effectively ruling out a U.S. bid until 2023 at the earliest.
Distinguished Vote Counters
Casting secret ballots on slips of paper placed into a Lucite box, the Pan Am voters do it the old fashioned way. No speedy electronic voting of the sort used by the IOC.
Scrutineers for the counting were IOC member Yumilka Ruiz Luaces of Cuba and Mino Auletta, president of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The distinguished Italian lawyer and the twice-gold volleyball player were speedy in their mission, taking just 15 minutes to count the results.
Written by Ed Hula.
For general comments or questions, click here.
Your best source of news about the Olympics is http://www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.
(Copyright 1992 2008, all rights reserved. The information in this report may not be published, excerpted, or otherwise distributed in print or broadcast without the express prior consent of Around the Rings.)