Asunción and Lima, official candidates to replace Barranquilla in 2027. PANAM SPORTS

The capitals of Paraguay and Peru are the two candidates to replace Barranquilla as the host of the 20th Pan American Games, scheduled for 2027. The vote will take place at the Assembly in March.

Panam Sports, the organisation responsible for the Pan American Games, ratified on 3rd February the irrevocable decision to revoke the right to host the next Pan American Games due to systematic violations. Beyond the controversy surrounding this decision and the attempts to regain the Games by the Colombian government led by President Gustavo Petro, Colombia has lost the event. 

An old saying in South America is "out with the old, in with the new." In this case, Asunción quickly volunteered to take over from Barranquilla, drawing criticism from all corners of Colombia. Lima, more cautiously, expressed interest in hosting the Panam Games, but made it clear that this was conditional on Colombia's sanctions and loss of hosting rights being confirmed

Fireworks during the opening ceremony of the Lima 2019 Pan American Games. GETTY IMAGES
Fireworks during the opening ceremony of the Lima 2019 Pan American Games. GETTY IMAGES

There was speculation about other potential host cities. The South American economic giant of Sao Paulo was one option, and Guadalajara in Mexico was another. None of these possibilities materialised, and the only candidates were Paraguay and Peru. The Pan American Sports Organisation (ODEPA) - also known as Panam Sports - has chosen its candidates for the next edition of the Pan American and Parapan American Games: Lima and Asunción, each with its advantages and disadvantages. 

Lima's main advantage is that it successfully hosted the Games in 2019 and could use the infrastructure from that event. This is in line with the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) principles of sustainability and, above all, viability. 

"Lima is a reality, not a promise" is the slogan of the Peruvian Olympic Committee (COP). The Peruvian capital quickly gained the political support of key city and central government leaders, something that didn't happen in Barranquilla.

First, the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima expressed its support for the candidacy, and later, the president of the Republic, Dina Boluarte, gave her approval. The COP thus submitted Lima's candidature to ODEPA. 

Apart from Lima, Asunción was the other city to submit its bid before the January 2024 deadline and meet all the requirements. . Panam Sports officially supported only Lima and Asunción, both of which met all the criteria set by the regional sports body. 

"We are very happy with the candidacy of these two great cities of our continent. They both fulfilled the requirements of this process within the deadline and in March the General Assembly will vote for the one they consider the best," said Neven Ilic, the current president of Panam Sports.

Asuncion aims to host the most important sporting event in its history. GETTY IMAGES
Asuncion aims to host the most important sporting event in its history. GETTY IMAGES

"The capitals of Paraguay and Peru have officially submitted their bids, and one of them will be chosen to host the XX Pan American Games in history. The Extraordinary General Assembly will be held on the 12th of March, where the election will take place," informed Panam Sports. 

According to the document, the representatives of each candidate city will have to make a 40-minute presentation at the March 2024 meeting, after which a vote will be taken among all member countries. 

Asunción had an advantage at the start of the year, being the first city to firmly submit its candidacy after the process was launched on 5 January. Lima emerged as a strong contender, not only having hosted the Games just five years ago but also managing the sports complexes left over from the the Lima 2019 Pan American Games through the "Legacy Project."

Asunción has no experience in organising the Pan American and Parapan American Games. It has never hosted such an event in its history and, despite good intentions, time is pressing to build the necessary infrastructure to host this very important sporting event. 

On the positive side, Asunción can point to its successful hosting of the 2022 South American Games, which brought 15 countries to the Paraguayan capital for 15 days that year.