Girish Mahajan (Editor)

2011 Pan American Games

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Host city

Nations participating

361 in 36 sports


Athletes participating

2011 Pan American Games

Fiesta de las Americas (The Americas' Party)

The 2011 Pan American Games, officially the XVI Pan American Games, was an international multi-sport event that was held from October 14–30, 2011, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Some events were held in the nearby cities of Ciudad Guzmán, Puerto Vallarta, Lagos de Moreno and Tapalpa. It was the largest multi-sport event of 2011, with approximately 6,000 athletes from 42 nations participating in 36 sports. Both the Pan American and Parapan American Games were organized by the Guadalajara 2011 Organizing Committee (COPAG). The 2011 Pan American Games were the third Pan American Games hosted by Mexico (the first country to do so) and the first held in the state of Jalisco. Previously, Mexico hosted the 1955 Pan American Games and the 1975 Pan American Games, both in Mexico City. The 2011 Parapan American Games were held 20 days after the Pan American Games have ended.


Following PASO tradition, Jalisco governor Emilio González Márquez and then Guadalajara mayor Alfonso Petersen Farah received the Pan American Sports Organization flag during the closing ceremony of the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event was officially opened by the President of Mexico Felipe Calderón.

The United States won the most total medals, their fifteenth straight time doing so at the Pan American Games. Brett Fraser, a swimmer from the Cayman Islands, won the first Pan American Games gold medal for his country, while Saint Kitts and Nevis won its first ever Pan American Games medal of any kind.

Host city election

PASO selected the city unanimously as the host for 16th Pan American Games on Friday, June 2, 2006, at its 44th general assembly held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Guadalajara was the only city to officially bid for the 2011 Pan American Games. This may have been in part due to no announced and/or open candidature period for the event. Guadalajara initially bid for the 2003 Pan American Games which were held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. San Antonio, United States, which bid for the 2007 Games, declined to bid for the 2011 games.

Infrastructure and budget

Inspired by the 2003 Santo Domingo Games, Guadalajara used the Games as a cost-effective way to build sports infrastructure, according to Ivar Sisniega, Guadalajara 2011 international relations and sports director. Guadalajara, a metropolitan area of five million people, is a destination for cultural and business travellers.

Horacio de la Vega, marketing director for Guadalajara 2011, cited the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona as the inspiration for infrastructure improvements. "Barcelona wasn't Barcelona before it got the Olympic Games. In a more modest sense, we are doing the same in Guadalajara", he said. The budget was estimated at US $200 million, of which $180 million was for sports infrastructure. Some of the funding went to general street improvement and public transportation. Dr. Carlos Andrade was the head of the organizing committee.

However, as the Games drew closer to starting, it was revealed that the costs of building the venues and the athletes' village had more than tripled to US$750 million.

The city planned to build a new convention center and undertake road improvements. Additional plans called for transit improvements, a performing arts theater (Auditorio Telmex) and a new public library. Guadalajara increased the number of available hotel rooms by 5,000 for the games.

By April, Guadalajara 2011 had made over US$50 million revenue from television rights and sponsors, which was more than the previous games in Rio de Janeiro. The organizing committee had aimed for a revenue of about $70 million by the end of the Games. The organizing committee also expected to sell about one million tickets, which went on sale on May 13, 2011.

In June 2011, four months before the games, Carlos Andrade stated that no construction concerns remained for Guadalajara. He said that all 23 stadiums being built would be ready for the start of the games.


Marketing for the games began in 2007 at the closing ceremony of the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro with a handover ceremony to the next host city. The state and national governments arranged for signs and billboards. Two TV networks, Televisa and TV Azteca, signed contracts to broadcast the Games and to advertise them. Famous athletes from Mexico, including diver Fernando Platas and golfer Lorena Ochoa, were also named ambassadors to promote the games. The organizing committee also signed a marketing deal with SKY México, which operates in several countries. The network created a channel dedicated to the games. Classes were suspended in Guadalajara during the games to give students the chance to attend.


There were four official sponsors for the Games: Scotiabank, Telcel, Nissan and Telmex. Accordingly, some of the venues were named after these sponsors, such as the Scotiabank Aquatics Center, Nissan Gymnastics Stadium, Telcel Tennis Complex and the Telmex Athletics Stadium. Children International was also an official benefactor of the Pan American Games. "Second tier" and "third tier" sponsors included Technogym and others.


The mascots for the 2011 Pan American Games and the 2011 Parapan American Games were Huichi, Gavo, and Leo. The organizing committee unveiled the mascots at the Plaza Andares Amphitheater in Guadalajara on November 28, 2009, and the mascots were officially named on February 10, 2010.

The co-creators of the mascots were José Luis Andrade (Leo), Ángel Barba Barrera (Huichi), and Fernando Sanchez (Gavo). Each received $2,584. The mascots represented the state of Jalisco and the city of Guadalajara.

  • Gavo — A blue agave (agave azul) plant that is representative of the region which is famous for its tequila production.
  • Huichi — A deer, to represent the southern part of the state
  • Leo — A lion, to represents the strong people of Guadalajara. The lion is present in the city's coat of arms.
  • Venues

    The aquatic centre has two Olympic-size pools and a diving platform. The athletic facility was expanded to 15,000 during the Games and then was converted back to 5,000 seats. Puerto Vallarta hosted sailing, marathon swimming, triathlon, and beach volleyball.

    Other cities that co-hosted the event are Tapalpa (mountain biking), Ciudad Guzmán (rowing and canoeing) and Lagos de Moreno (baseball).

    The opening and closing ceremonies were held at the Omnilife Stadium, which was constructed in 2010 for the Chivas football team. Originally, the bigger and older Jalisco Stadium was scheduled to host the ceremonies, but the organizing committee decided to move to the newer and more technologically advanced Omnilife stadium. By moving the ceremonies to the Omnilife Stadium organizers also allowed for a parade to be held through the streets of Guadalajara and an increase in the use of projections and fireworks. Other venues that already existed in Guadalajara included the Weightlifting Forum and the CODE Dome. Most other venues for the games had to be constructed or expanded temporarily to host the games.

    10 new venues were planned including a volleyball arena, covered velodrome, shooting range, and a basketball arena. The 3,500-seat gymnastics stadium, which cost $5.5 million, opened in March 2008.

    In total about 35 different venues were used, with a majority of them being newly built specifically for the games.

    Torch relay

    The Pan American Torch Relay brought the torch from Mexico City to the Estadio Omnilife for the Opening Ceremony. The flame arrives just in time for the opening ceremony.

    The relay took the torch through all 32 Mexican states on a 50-day route starting on August 26 at the pyramids of Teotihuacan outside Mexico City. About 3,500 runners carried the torch on the 15,000-kilometer route. The torch arrived in Puerto Vallarta on October 9, Ciudad Guzmán on October 11, Tapalpa on October 12, Lagos de Moreno on October 13 and Guadalajara on October 14. The torch relay was sponsored by local nutrition company Grupo Omnilife.

    The torch design depicted agave leaves protecting the Pan American flame. It was designed by Vatti, the same company that designed the torch for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The torch relay was organized by the Mexican Olympic Committee.

    Opening ceremony

    The opening ceremony of the games took place on October 14, 2011, at 8:00 pm CDT (01:00 UTC, October 15) at Omnilife Stadium. The opening ceremony was produced by Five Currents, who also produced the 2002 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony.

    Participating teams

    All 41 members of PASO competed at the Games. The Netherlands Antilles Olympic Committee, which had planned to continue functioning after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, had its membership withdrawn by the IOC Executive Committee at the IOC session on July 2011. However, it took steps to allow athletes to compete at the 2011 Pan American Games under the PASO flag.

    The number of competitors qualified by each delegation is indicated in parentheses.


    36 sports were contested in Guadalajara. With sports such as diving, a sub-discipline of aquatics, included, the number goes up to 40 sports. Futsal, which was added as sport for the 2007 Pan American Games was dropped from the program. Rugby sevens replaced futsal at the games, appearing on the games program for the very first time. Racquetball and basque pelota also returned to the program after missing the last games in Rio de Janeiro. There were 361 medal events in total. The 2011 Pan American Games had qualification standards for every sport just like the Olympic Games. 15 out of the 26 current Summer Olympic sports, including canoeing, handball, and modern pentathlon, will use the Pan American Games as a qualifier for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

    Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of medal events contested in each sport.


    2011 Pan American Games Wikipedia