André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
President of the Pan American Sports Organisation (PASO/ODEPA), Mario Vazquez Rana, is looking forward to this week's Extraordinary General Assembly, which is being staged here in Jamaica, and believes the organisation is at its strongest point.
Rana arrived in the island yesterday afternoon on a private flight from Mexico, ahead of the February 7 and 8 assembly, which will be held at The Jamaica Pegasus in New Kingston and attended by some 200 regional delegates and officials from the 41 National Olympic Committees of the Americas, which make up PASO/ODEPA.
With Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) President Mike Fennell by his side, Rana, who was also greeted by Mexican Ambassador Gerardo Lozano, as well as JOA officials Don Anderson, Molly Rhone and Compton Rodney upon arrival, told The Gleaner that this week's assembly holds particular importance for the region.
"This is an Extraordinary General Assembly and there are many issues to be discussed, which I believe will be of the benefit of the strengthening of our continent," said Rana through his interpreter.
Prior to the main conference, the regional sporting administrators will meet February 4-6 with delegates from Pan American Sports Federations; the Organising Commit-tee for the next Pan American Games, slated for Toronto, Canada in 2015; and the Organising Committee of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
"In the family of the Pan American Sports Organisation, we are expecting to announce the bid cities that are bidding to host the 2019 Pan American Games," Rana added. "We are very proud of the cities that applied, and I truly believe that the organisation is stronger than ever, both financially and when it comes to the preparation of the best games ever and the best athletes in them."
La Punta, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Lima, Peru; and Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, have all submitted bids to host the 2019 edition of the games contested by athletes from North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
"To come here and be with my friend Mike Fennell brings me great satisfaction, and I truly believe that it is going to be a great assembly," Rana added. "We have supported Jamaica but we have to acknowledge the fact that Jamaica, in track and field, is a phenomenon. It's not only recognised by us but worldwide."
Rana, a media mogul in his native Mexico, has headed PASO/ODEPA since 1975 and has also served in several capacities in the International Olympic Committee.