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The 14th Pan American Games were held in Santo Domingomarker, Dominican Republicmarker 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.

The United States pre-registered the most at 713 athletes; Saint Luciamarker entered the least at 6. The host country entered 562 athletes.

Game Highlights

Opening Ceremony

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 coach of the same name, dressed in a Dominican baseball uniform, swung a bat at a baseball sitting atop the mini-flame which triggered the cauldron.

The ceremony also was attended by Dominican Republic President Hipolito Mejia, 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.

Medal Table

Rank Country Total
1 117 80 73 270
2 72 41 39 152
3 29 57 42 128
4 29 40 54 123
5 20 27 32 79
6 16 21 27 64
7 16 20 27 63
8 11 8 24 43
9 10 12 19 41
10 5 2 6 13


The 2003 games marked the return of waterskiing to the Games.


  1. 41 Countries and 6,748 Athletes Pre-Registered in Pan Am 2003
  2. Games Lift Spirits in Santo Domingo
  3. The most costly Pan Am Games ever
  4. Setting sites for the Dominican Republic

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