Pan American Games kick off in Guadalajara
BRASILIA, October 18, 2011 - On the evening of Friday, the 14th of October the 16th edition of the 2011 Pan American Games kicked-off at the Mexican city of Guadalajara. The Omnilife stadium of the local football team Chivas was chosen as the opening ceremony venue. 'Bienvenidos a Guadalajara 2011' - Welcome to Guadalajara 2011 in Spanish - projected on the central stage welcomed the plentiful spectators (over 45,000 people in attendance) as a display of fireworks started the party.
The audience was entertained by a performance given by the games' volunteers, as the official flags of Mexico and Guadalajara City were lifted above the stadium. Famous Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez accompanied by a typical Mexican Mariachi band gave a tribute to the host country with the song "Viva Mexico".
The delegations began arriving shortly thereafter; of more than 6000 athletes from 42 countries in the Americas set to attend the current edition of the Games a significant number could not take part in the Opening ceremony due to competition commitments on the following day.
The Argentinian delegation was the first to make the entry, followed by Brazil that had a significant number of supporters present at the ceremony as spectatros. The Brazilian table tennis payer Hugo Hoyama bore his country's national flag as he led the team into the stadium. With 9 golden medals earned throughout the years, the 42-year old currently holds competition's all-time record.
The Brazilian team's kit (green, yellow and blue tops, white bottoms) bore the drawings of the sidewalk of Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, making allusions at the Olympic Games to be held in the city in five years. Apart from the colorful shirts, the sportsmen also wore a white hat and cheerfully waved the flags of both Brazil and Mexico.
As the hosts of the current Pan American games, the Mexican team was the last to enter the stage. The team's appearance provoked a particular excitement from the crowd, as they joined the other athletes while clad in traditional Mariachi clothing and big hats, chanting 'Mexico, Mexico!' along their way towards the seats.
The award-winning Mexican pop rock band "Mana" gave a short performance while a light show and electronic music of the local band Nortec Collective gave another touch to the modern image of Mexico portrayed throughout the ceremony. The musical performances gave a palpable dose of energy to those in attendance, encouraging the athletes – especially the Brazilians – to start having fun in the athletes sector.
By the end of the ceremony, a formal speech given by the governor of Jalisco Emilio Gonzalez, followed by Marco Rana, the President of ODEPA . Both of the officials highlighted the importance of the Games for the union of the Americas and its youth, while the Mexican President Felipe Calderon who was met by enthusiastic cheering of the crowd declared 16th edition of the Pan-American Games officially open.
The ODEPA and IOC flags were soon lifted over the stadium one of the flag bearers being the former Miss Universe Mexican Jimena Navarrete. World Champion and Olympic medalist in diving Paola Espinoza was given the honor to perform one of the most anticipated moments of the opening night by lighting the Pan American cauldron.
The ceremony finished with a traditional display of fireworks.