Canada and the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games in Toronto

Marion Ménard
Legal and Social Affairs Division

Some 7,000 athletes from 41 countries and territories in the Americas will soon converge on Toronto to take part in the Pan American and Parapan American Games. These elite athletes will compete in the 65 events in the two sport programs. The XVII Pan American Games will run from 10 to 26 July 2015, while the V Parapan American Games will take place from 7 to 15 August 2015.

The Canadian Olympic Committee’s goal for Team Canada at the Pan American Games is second place in the medal rankings. The Canadian Paralympic Committee’s goal for the Parapan American Games is a top-three finish in the medal rankings.

Canada at the Pan American Games

The Pan American Games were first held in 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since then, they have taken place every four years. Winnipeg has hosted the Games twice, in 1967 and 1999. Over the years, the Pan American Games have grown substantially to become the third-largest international multi-sport games, after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games.

Canada took part in the Games for the first time in 1955, in Mexico City. From 1971 to 2003, Canada ranked third in the medal rankings nine consecutive times (see Figure 1). Canada won its greatest number of medals in 1999 in Winnipeg, where Canadian athletes earned 196 medals, including 64 golds. In 2011, in Guadalajara, Mexico, Canada won 119 medals, ranking fifth behind the United States, Cuba, Brazil and Mexico.

Figure 1 – Canada’s Performance at the Pan American Games,
Number of Medals and Medal Ranking, 1955 to 2011

Figure 1 – Canada’s Performance at the Pan American Games,  Number of Medals and Medal Ranking, 1955 to 2011

Source: Historica Canada, Pan American Games

This summer in Toronto, Team Canada will comprise some 700 athletes. It will be the largest Canadian contingent in the history of the Games. By comparison, 486 Canadian athletes took part in the 2011 Games in Guadalajara.

It is worth noting that canoe slalom, golf and women’s rugby sevens will make their debut in the Pan American Games sport program this year. In addition, equestrian Ian Millar will compete in his ninth Games and try to add a 10th show-jumping medal to his collection.

Canada at the Parapan American Games

The Parapan American Games were first held in 1999 in Mexico City. One thousand athletes from 18 countries competed in four sports. In Toronto, about 1,500 athletes from 28 countries will be seeking medals in 16 sports.

Canada’s best performance was in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 (see Figure 2). Canadian athletes won 112 medals, placing second in the medal ranking.

Figure 2 – Canada’s Performance at the Parapan American Games,
Number of Medals and Medal Ranking, 1999 to 2011

Figure 2 – Canada’s Performance at the Parapan American Games,  Number of Medals and Medal Ranking, 1999 to 2011Source: Canadian Paralympic Committee

In 2011, swimmer Benoît Huot had a very successful Games, winning three gold and four silver medals. Huot will be one of the 250 athletes representing Canada at the Games in August. The swimming competitions will be held in the new CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House, constructed at a cost of $205.1 million.

Federal government involvement

The Government of Canada will contribute financially to the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games.

The Multi Party Agreement signed in 2009 sets out the responsibilities of the parties involved in organizing and running the event. The agreement states that the federal government is committed to investing over $500 million in the following three areas:

  • $386.1 million for sports venues;
  • $65 million for the Toronto 2015 Sport Legacy Fund; and
  • $48.9 million for essential federal services provided by 13 federal agencies (security, customs services, athlete accreditation, public health, etc.).

In addition, the federal government is providing partial support for cultural programming at the Games. The goal of this programming is to reflect Canada’s cultural and linguistic diversity and to support events such as the torch relays for both the Pan American Games and Parapan American Games.

Over the course of a 41-day journey starting in Toronto on 30 May 2015, the Pan American Games Torch will pass through 130 communities, ending up at its starting point for the opening ceremony. While the torch is in Oshawa, it will be carried by Norma Douglas, a former synchronized swimmer now aged 84. Douglas won a silver medal in the first Pan American Games in which Canada participated, in 1955.

The Parapan American Games Torch Relay will consist of two separate relays covering a total of 700 km over four days.

On the linguistic front, English and Spanish are the official languages of the Pan American Sports Organization. However, the Multi Party Agreement and a memorandum of understanding signed with Canada’s Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages prescribe what the organizing committee must do to respect Canada’s linguistic duality. The organizing committee agreed to communicate with the public and participants in both English and French, as well as to take into account the needs of official-language minority communities in developing and delivering its programs and services.

The Royal Canadian Mint is the official medals design and production supplier. It has already produced 4,283 medals for the winners of the various events. The medals for both Games will be inscribed with “TORONTO 2015” in braille.

Finally, CBC/Radio-Canada will be the official host and domestic broadcaster of the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. CBC/Radio-Canada will broadcast over 650 hours of digital coverage on the CBC and Radio-Canada websites, providing the most expansive Canadian media coverage ever.

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