Lima 2019 unaffected by political crisis, says new Peruvian president
By Callum Murray
Martín Vizcarra, the new president of Peru, has claimed that concerns over a political crisis affecting the progress of infrastructure work for the capital Lima’s hosting of next year’s Pan American Games have been “overcome,” and called for a shift in focus towards Peru’s successful participation at the games.
He said: “Infrastructure will no longer be a problem. We now need to think about our performance. Let’s stop worrying about iron and cement and focus on our participation at the Games. We will review the other projects to confirm they are on schedule and ensure that the Games are under control, but the issue of infrastructure is already overcome. Now let's think about our athletes and their participation, which is the most important aspect.”
Vizcarra (pictured left with Lima 2019's Carlos Neuhaus) was speaking after a visit to the Pan American Village, which will house about 10,000 athletes and officials during the Games. He said: “Construction is fully under way and we will deliver the Pan American Village with its total of 1,096 apartments. Works started at the end of December and by April we have already completed four towers. That is an average of one tower per month. Work is ahead of schedule and set to be complete ahead of time.”
Last year, Neuhaus, president of the Lima 2019 organising committee, insisted that preparations for the games would not be derailed by the political crisis that eventually led last month to the resignation of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Cornejo’s predecessor as president.
The crisis involved allegations that companies owned by Kuczynski received payments from Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction and engineering company that is embroiled in a major bribery scandal relating to construction work for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, among other projects.
Vizcarra added: “When Peru sets goals, it meets them. We will fulfil our responsibility. The infrastructure will remain in place and we must make use of it by boosting sports participation.
“The Pan American and Parapan American Games are an opportunity to use sport as a tool to improve education. What I want from the Games is to provide a good service and the memory of a record-breaking medal haul for Peru. Let our participation be outstanding.”
Speaking at the SportAccord convention in Bangkok last week, Lima 2019’s Carlos Manuel Lazarte told Sportcal that the organisers would address concerns over Lima’s notorious traffic jams during the games with dedicated Olympic-style traffic lanes which would mean that all venues would be within a 40-minute drive of the Pan American Village.
Other “traffic mitigation policies,” he said, would include rescheduling public-sector holidays to coincide with the games and increasing the hours of operation of public transport. He said: “For sure, we have to be quite creative, because the traffic is busy, but Lima should be more transport-friendly.”
The overall budget for hosting the games is 4.3 billion sols ($1.33 billion), which is mainly being spent on the construction and upgrading of sports venues.
Lazarte said: “We were not able in the past to develop other sports, except for the popular ones. Now, in the main sports precinct there will be a new athletics stadium, a new aquatic centre and we’ll finish the velodrome, which wasn’t covered. There will also be a new multi-sports complex and new bowling venue, and a new team sports precinct for hockey, rugby, baseball and water polo.”
With an eye to hosting future major sporting events, Lazarte said: “We already have the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in 2019 and other conversations are taking place.”
Approximately 6,700 athletes from 41 countries are expected to compete in 39 sports and 62 disciplines at the Pan American Games, which are scheduled for 26 July to 11 August, 2019.
They will be followed by the Parapan American Games in Lima, which are set to involve 1,890 athletes competing in 17 sports and 18 disciplines between 23 August and 1 September 2019.