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Putting sport at the heart of Peruvian life

Lima 2019 president Carlos Neuhaus looks forward to hosting the Pan American and Parapan American Games next year, and the impact they can have on Peru and its people.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 26: One lone fan of Australia holds of Australia scarf amongst the fans of Peru during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group C match between Australia and Peru at Fisht Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Lima 2019 will be a world-class Games that puts sport at the heart of Peruvian life and establishes Lima as a new sports capital of the Americas. Peru has never delivered an event on this scale before and has never had the opportunity to achieve so much as a country through a single project.

These Games will be the culmination of a long-term national strategy geared toward matching the Peruvians’ fierce passion for sport with the infrastructure to make Peru’s sporting dreams a reality. We are a nation that can send 30,000 fans to the Fifa World Cup in Russia this year, but we have not built an Olympic swimming pool since 1962. Hosting major international events like the Pan American and Parapan American Games can be the catalyst for changing that imbalance.

Before Lima 2019 came the 2017 IOC Session, the biggest global gathering of the Olympic Movement outside the Games themselves. Before that the 2016 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings and the 2013 Bolivarian Games. Each of these presented fresh opportunities for our country to build our capacity for hosting the world; to demonstrate our enthusiasm and our readiness to deliver on the global stage.

An event of the size and global significance of the Pan American and Parapan American Games will never be without its challenges. Early in the project there were delays in construction; there has been political uncertainty and devastating floods that have affected the whole country. But thanks to the hard work of a dedicated and passionate team, we have achieved a remarkable turnaround. Now we are firmly on track to stage a captivating sporting celebration that will leave a defining legacy for the city of Lima and Peru for generations to come.

Now our goal must be to deliver the right Games for our country and our citizens. In Peru, that means producing high-quality, efficient, transparent and affordable events. It means a tangible, valuable investment in our country’s future. To realise the Games’ full potential, we have sought industry-leading expertise from around the globe to eliminate risk, maximise efficiencies, and optimise the experience for every participant. In April 2017, we signed a government-to-government agreement with the United Kingdom, a nation with a proven track record in successfully planning, hosting and capitalising on major sporting events, particularly the London 2012 Olympic Games.

One of the key outcomes of our partnership with the UK government has been a streamlined procurement strategy that bypasses the lengthy process previously in place for public infrastructure projects in Peru. It has enabled us to accelerate key projects like the Pan American Village and VIDENA Sports Complex, and attract record interest from companies in Peru and around the world. That record interest has allowed Lima 2019 to secure competitive proposals and ensure the government’s investment generates maximum benefit for communities in Lima and beyond.

Our key infrastructure projects are now all underway and scheduled to be delivered on time, with the overwhelming majority due to be completed by spring 2019. Lima 2019’s procurement process has been the key to our project’s growing momentum and I have no doubt it will become the best-practice blueprint for future government infrastructure projects in Peru.

So, despite our early hurdles, Lima 2019 is now in a position to deliver an exceptional Games. We will stage more sports and more disciplines than any Pan American and Parapan American Games in history. A number of those events will be Tokyo 2020 qualifiers, guaranteeing world-class competition from 6,700 of the continent’s top athletes. Working with Panam Sports (the international organisation which represents the current 41 National Olympic Committees of North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean), we’ve curated a unique sports programme that blends classic sports with innovative, youth-centric disciplines like surfing, skating and 3×3 basketball. So, alongside Team USA’s swimmers, Jamaica’s sprinters and Cuba’s boxers, we’ll see Peruvian athletes like surfer and Lima 2019 ambassador Sofía Mulánovich helping to connect our Games with the next generation of fans.

We look forward to welcoming international visitors, showing off all that Lima and Peru has to offer, from famous gastronomy to breathtaking archaeological sites and a cultural experience 4,000 years in the making. Visiting spectators are in line for a captivating spectacle with a bold Peruvian flavour as the Americas’ best athletes arrive here for the first time. But those fabulous few weeks in 2019 will be just the start. What drives us every day is the vision of what comes next.

There’s the short-term impact of 900 hours of the best of the Americas being broadcast from Lima, and 1.2 million tickets on sale. Experts forecast 900,000 additional tourists between 2018 and 2021, a 30-per-cent increase. The economic stimulus from preparation and hosting could see a 0.5-per-cent boost in GDP directly related to the Games, plus an anticipated multiplier effect in different economic sectors.

But more profound than Peru’s place in the global shop window is the impact of bringing sport to Lima’s underserved communities for the very first time. A recent survey found that the only sport played by more than 10 per cent of Lima residents at least once a week is football, and 45.7 per cent do not practise any sport at all. That is not lack of appetite; that is lack of opportunity. And that is why we took the decision to dedicate 70 per cent of the Lima 2019 budget to sports and its related infrastructure.

We are committed to building a physical, bricks and mortar sports legacy for the people of Lima. After the Games, 20 new or upgraded venues will be available to schools, youth clubs, communities and elite athletes. They will have access to indoor arenas, tennis courts, all-weather pitches and a brand new Olympic swimming pool. At Lima 2019, not only do we have the opportunity to give young Peruvian athletes their best chance to thrive, but ultimately we can instil that culture of sports participation and active living that makes for happier, healthier and more cohesive communities.

Speaking as a proud Peruvian, a sports administrator and a father, it’s an exciting prospect. But with a little under a year to go, we do not have a moment to lose. We have overcome obstacles, we have secured the best possible partners, we have given ourselves the best chance of success. All that is left is to stage the greatest and most impactful sports event in Peru’s history.

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