Games were held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from August 1-17 2003.
The successful bid
for the games was made in the mid-1990s, when this country had one
of the highest growth rates in Latin America.
All 42 PASO
countries and over 6,748 athletes pre-registered for the
participation in the XIV Pan American Games. An additional 2,425
trainers and delegates attended.
States pre-registered the most at 713 athletes; Saint Lucia entered the least at 6.
The host country
entered 562 athletes.
The games opened at the new Olympic Stadium before a crowd of
18,000. The exhibition featured some 10,000 performers, some
dressed in costumes ranging from skeletons to men in tuxedoes and
top hats, typifying a Dominican carnival.
Local baseball heroes Juan Marichal
and Pedro Martínez
were on hand
for the ceremony. They completed the final lap of the torch and
with Luis Pujols
, the nephew of the
San Francisco Giants
the same name, dressed in a Dominican baseball uniform, swung a bat
at a baseball sitting atop the mini-flame which triggered the
The ceremony also was attended by Dominican Republic President
, Pan American Sports
Organization president Mario Vázquez Raña
and New York
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Budget and Venues
The Dominican Republic spent at least $175 million for the 17-day
sporting event. Two Olympic parks were built, and laborers were
forced to work right up until the opening ceremony because of
construction delays, electrical blackouts, and questionable venue
quality. In the end, the Dominican Republic produced beautiful and
refurbished beautiful new sites.
Although a few logistical incidents occurred (a team was unable
to shower when the athletes village lacked water, teams were
missing tennis balls or towels), U.S. team chief Roland Betts,
commented "At times it has been a great struggle, but we are very
excited and proud to see the venues.
I believe these venues are as good as or better than any that
have been created for the Pan American Games."
Other attendees agreed that logistical and venues problems
declined greatly during the Games.
Controversy and local reaction
Numerous protest marches were staged to call attention to austerity
measures, including import taxes and spending cuts, and neglect of
impoverished areas. During the Games, the protests were banned from
the city. However, the Dominicans warmly embraced the Games with
pride, especially when local heroes such as Félix Sánchez
won the 400 meters
hurdles gold medal and broke the Pan Am record.
While praising the first rate facilities, critics decried the
huge cost overruns, the high payroll of the organizers, and
concerns over the Dominican Republic's ability to maintain the
venues after the Games.
The 2003 games marked the return of waterskiing
to the Games.
- 41 Countries and 6,748 Athletes Pre-Registered in Pan Am
- Games Lift Spirits in Santo Domingo
- The most costly Pan Am Games ever
- Setting sites for the Dominican Republic