The Pan American Games

As you may have read or heard somewhere, Rio is hosting the 2007 Pan American games. For you who don’t know what the ‘Pan’ is, it’s the equivalent of the Olympic Games, but just for the Americas, and it also happens every 4 years.

We are now entering the second and last week of competition and the U.S.A. is winning, with too many gold medals ahead of the second place Cuba. Brazil is currently in third place, its best record in the history of the games. Everybody is very excited about this result, about the appearence of new young sport idols, about the organization and about the new installations built for the competitions, such as the water park, the Olympic stadium and others, which are one of the most moderns in the world. (Brazil has just won another gold metal, and it’s now in 2nd place overall, just behind the U.S.A. as I write this post)

Now you can call me a boring guy and maybe I am! I’m happy with the games, I like watching it on the telly – I spend hours and hours on the sofa, in front of the TV (God bless cable TV!) just watching games. It’s entertaining, I confess. But I’m not so excited as people in general are. The TV can be your enemy and can distort things if you are not well informed and have your own opinions.

For example, there’s this new Brazilian kid that has won 6 gold medals in Swimming in the ‘Pan’. It’s the world record of gold medals in a single competition. The kid is amazing, very young, intelligent and with a promising future. But the media is already making him a phenomenon. And is already putting high expectations on him for the next Olympics, in Beijing 2008, by making polls for the viewers to vote and guess how many gold medals he will bring next year. And instead of helping, they may very well destroy a great promise that we have in our sport. Moreover, they forget to mention that if you take the kid’s times on the competitions and if you compare with the times of other top swimmers of the world, he would only fight for the 5th or 4th place in most of the competitions and he would have the chance to fight for a bronze medal in one, maybe two. They also forget to mention that the U.S.A. haven’t brought their top swimmers, because they’re preparing them for what they judge to be more important competitions in the future, which kind of let the kid with no real competitors, so we could not really judge his real capability of wining. Now imagine if the kid goes to Beijing and doesn’t bring a single medal (which is very probable, but hopefully it won’t happen). What will happen to him? The kid will be destroyed… This is just one example of how the media can impose what they want, and as they want.

One more example is the organization. It’s not really going as perfectly as they say on the 8 o’clock news. Games are being put off due to weather problems because they don’t have a simple plan B. It’s winter, for God’s sake! Rio is cold, windy and rainy in bloody winter! How come the organizers don’t have a plan B for this kind of situation?

And as for the installations they built? Amazing! Ultra modern! But instead of investing the money on public health, education, crime or any other social problem, they invested everything they had and didn’t have in these constructions. Now, what will happen to them when the games are over? Will they be used regularly for the development of the Brazilian sport and prove that this huge investment was worthy? Or they will be abandoned and turned into huge white elephants?

The government openly says that they used Athens, where the 2004 Olympic games was hosted, as a model. They went there, studied their projects, made some adaptations and built even better things here. Now, 3 years after the games in Athens, most of the installations are not being used regularly and their maintenance is very expensive, so many of them where simply put away. Let’s just hope our government won’t copy at least this…