The Pan American games were a great success – highlighting Lima as a dynamic cultural hub and luxury destination.
After several weeks of intense competition amongst 6,600 athletes, the XVIII Pan American Games and Parapan Games in Lima this August have come to an end. The event featured a stunning opening ceremony, which involved some 1700 artists, including dancers, acrobats, and musicians. The games were inaugurated by an expertly curated performance, which looked at the culture of Peru, its immense geographic diversity and rich national cuisine.
After all the medals were awarded, athletes and spectators alike were able to celebrate their achievements with a closing ceremony that beautifully explored Peru’s history, and a handoff for the 2023 Games with PANAM Sports President Neven Ilic and President Piñera of Chile (who couldn’t pass up a trip Lima!) In his closing remarks, Illic commented, “We are proud because Peru has prepared a wonderful party for sport in the Americas. This is the achievement of an entire country, its people, and its government… Be proud of what you have done. The world is watching and admiring you.”
During the games, 210,000 visitors descended on Peru’s capital, 50,000 of whom were spectators from across the globe. The Tourism Board of Peru (CANATUR) estimated that the games will generate an economic impact of $350 million.
This past year 4.4 million people traveled to Peru, with the second largest number of overseas visitors coming from the US. Over the past decade, tourism has increased substantially as the country’s profile has grown on the international stage. It is no surprise considering that Peru is home to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, hosts 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the cities of Lima and Arequipa, and has been named the Best Culinary Destination in the World for seven years in a row at the World Travel Awards, considered the “Oscars of Tourism.”
Taking Home the Gold
As predicted, the US finished first in the medal count with 120 Gold, 88 Silver and 85 Bronze, followed by Brazil, Mexico, Canada & Cuba.
Team USA was able to medal in nearly all of the 48 disciplines they participated in, from Basque Pelota to Weightlifting. First time participants in the games Margo Geer and Nathan Adrian broke a record for the country and are both leaving Lima with 6 medals. Commenting on his time in Peru and his performance at the games, Adrian said, “It’s beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful. This has exceeded all of my expectations.” This isn’t the only high-profile sports victory for the US in 2019, after taking home the World Cup in July. In fact, captain Megan Rapinoe’s memorable goal celebration was emulated by Gold-medalist Peruvian surfer Daniella Rosas during the games.
American swimmer Cody Miller made a mini YouTube series about his experience at the games and his impressions of Peru. One highlight was when he explored the Pan Am village and described the buzzing atmosphere and getting to meet athletes from across the Americas, all while sporting a custom shirt of an Alpaca in a swim cap, which he made for the event. After winning a Silver medal and complementing the aquatic facility he announced, “Tonight was a really, really, really fun time. I very much enjoyed myself. Just the feeling of being behind the blocks, about to race, the energy, the atmosphere, the crowd was so energetic and happy to be there.”
Cody wasn’t the only athlete who took the opportunity to explore the country. After winning a Silver medal in the Modern Pentathlon for Team USA, Samantha Achterberg extended her stay in Peru to celebrate her excellent performance in style. In addition to visiting Machu Picchu, Achterberg spent time in the city of Cusco where she participated in a cooking class with her partner Karl to learn firsthand about Peru’s famous gastronomy and sampled a well-deserved Pisco Sour to conclude her visit.
We hope everyone on Team USA enjoyed their time in Lima at the games, and we would be happy to have them back to Peru during their offseason!
The Peruvian Connection
“Four years ago, a group of friends in New York were quite surprised that Peru won Gold at the Toronto Pan American games in 2015. Their reaction was justified, since Peru had won only 8 Gold medals in the entire history of the games (4 in Toronto)… According to a Peruvian source, he’s predicting (or hoping?) that Peru will garner 10 Gold medals this Summer, so he is ready to bet a dinner at any of the 3 Lima restaurants that hold rank on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, that Peru will win at least 8 Gold medals. No one is a loser in that!” That is what we wrote in our pre-game article back in March.
Well, the numbers are in and they are quite exciting… Team Peru smashed their previous record at the games, finishing with 11 Gold, 7 Silver and 21 Bronze. Peru will be taking home 15 medals in contact sports, 10 medals in water sports, 7 medals in racquet sports, 4 medals in running & strength sports and 2 medals in target sports.
So the bet’s prediction was surpassed. This certain someone will be back in Lima during the first week of October, so if you took up this offer, don’t be afraid to stop by one of these amazing restaurants while there, and you might just have your bill taken care of! You might even be sitting next to one of Team Peru’s 11 Gold medalists.
A Lasting Impact
While the games might be over, they have created a positive impact on the city of Lima. Along with raising the regional profile of Peru, the Pan American games demonstrated Peru’s strength to host such a high-profile international event, and opens the door to future opportunities. Even more tangibly, nearly $1.2 Billion was spent on improving infrastructure across the city, including, public housing, roads and sports facilities, which will benefit the city and its residents for years to come!