Last Updated: 2017-05-16
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LIMA, May 16 (NNN-EFE) -- With a little more than two years to go before the 2019 Pan American in Lima, where some 9,000 athletes will compete, organizing committee president Carlos Neuhaus told EFE he was confident all will be ready in time and none of the venues will become a "white elephant."

"We're on time, but we don't have any time to waste," admitted Neuhaus, who last October took on the challenge of organizing the Pan American Games in record time amid heavy criticism over the scanty progress by the two committees that preceded him and ended up pulling out of the project.

In the four years that have passed since Lima was selected to host the Games, the slowness of the ongoing preparations aroused the concern of the Pan American Sports Organization (Odepa), whose new president, Chile's Neven Ilic, on two occasions has met with Peruvian authorities after assuming the post two weeks ago.

The top official with the Lima 2019 Pan American Games Organizing Committee (Copal), admitted in an interview with EFE that what "primarily concerned" Odepa was the Pan American Village, the facilities that will house the majority of the athletes.

"It's rather clear to us. It seemed to them that things were fine. We're showing everything to them and we told them all about the progress to update them," Neuhaus said.

He said that the bidding for the Village will begin in June and the first brick will be laid in September, possibly coinciding with the Sept. 13-17 session of the International Olympic Committee in Lima at which the host city for the 2024 Olympic Games will be selected.

Neuhaus said that 65 percent of the necessary sports infrastructure already exists and what still needs to be built are "two stadiums for 4,500 people and the aquatic center," while the other work consists of remodeling and adaptations to existing facilities.

Regarding the big rowing channel that was planned for Callao, the port city adjacent to Lima, Neuhaus said that that project is in private hands and is not within the purview of the organizing committee, so Plan B is to use a lake seven kilometers (4.3 miles) long in the town of Huacho, 130 km (81 mi.) north of the capital.

"We're not going to spend $260 million to make a breakwater in the ocean without even knowing its final cost," he stressed, adding that "we're going to do exactly what is needed. This isn't a beauty contest. There is much concern within Odepa because the Games are starting to be like an auction for who can offer more things, and there are already many projects that remain white elephants in other cities."

In Lima "there will be no white elephant" when the Pan American Games are over because, in addition to the rowing channel, a costly volleyball pavilion was also cancelled, with that sport to be accommodated at the Callao Sports Village. -- NNN-EFE