Jorge Gil Ángel
Bogotá, Jan 10 (EFE).- Colombian gold medalist and former sports minister María Isabel Urrutia confirmed in an interview with EFE that Panam sports is the winner behind the 2027 Pan American Games, which last week revoked Barranquilla’s hosting rights.
“The only thing I know is that the winner for 2027 is the Pan American Games. And why? Because at this moment, there is a patrimonial damage of two million dollars that Barranquilla has already paid. If the games go to Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, or anywhere in the world, those countries will also have to pay,” said Urrutia.
Barranquilla, a city on Colombia’s Atlantic coast, had been selected to host the 2027 Pan American Games, but on Jan. 3, the Pan American Sports Organization revoked the city’s decision because the Colombian government failed to make two four-million-dollar payments agreed upon by the parties.
Panam Sports decision led to a barrage of criticism directed at Gustavo Petro’s government, of which Urrutia was a member between August 2022 and March 2023.
“I think there has to be some responsibility and humanity on behalf of Panam Sports to leave the games in Colombia,” said Urrutia, who became Colombia’s first Olympic champion in 2000 when she won gold in the 75-kilogram weightlifting category.
The former minister, who won a silver medal in weightlifting at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, assured that when she took over the sports portfolio in 2022, the 2027 Pan American Games were not contemplated in the budget, even though it had been known since 2021 that Barranquilla was going to host them.
For this reason, she added that she tried to “organize as much as possible what had to be done,” including Pan American Games in Barranquilla within the government’s development guidelines and last year’s national budget.
Urrutia said that the country lost the venue because the payment should have been made in the last week of December.
The former minister also questioned the organization of the Pan American Games in Colombia, which, according to her, still has a small budget and a lack of support for local athletes, who mostly depend on the support of their families.
However, Urrutia said she is also aware of how important it is for Colombian athletes to have the games in the country, despite the cost, because national support is also very important.
“Barranquilla is the most sports-loving city in the country, and they fill the venues. People come even if they don’t know the sport. This is very important for the athletes because they are competing at home and they feel supported,” she concluded. EFE