The coastal city of Barranquilla in the South American country of Colombia has lost its chance to host the 2027 Pan American Games. The Pan American Sports Organisation revoked their selection when the organizers failed to provide promised sponsorship of about $8 million to be paid in two installments – one in December 2023 and the other in December 2024. As a result, Panam Sports had to take the irrevocable decision to withdraw the city’s right to host the Pan Ams and terminate the contract.

In a press release, the organization stated, “On 19 October in a meeting in Santiago, Chile, and after receiving an official letter from the Colombian authorities dated 25 October, Barranquilla requested an extension of the deadline to fulfil the contract. The proposal was accepted by Panam Sports, which set a new deadline of 30 December 2023, and 30 January 2024,” said its president, Neven Ilic, in a message sent to Colombian Olympic Committee president Ciro Solano Hurtado. Despite the extension granted, the lack of response was the trigger for termination, according to the official communication.

The Pan American Games date back to their debut on February 25, 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which saw more than 2,500 athletes from 22 countries in South America, Central America and North America participate. Today, it remains the largest international sporting competition after the Olympic Games, with participation of about 7,000 athletes. The Games have been held in Canada on three occasions: Winnipeg in 1967 and 1999, and Toronto in 2015.

Colombia had previously hosted the Games in 1971 in Cali. The decision is a serious setback for the country and the city, which may seek legal action for damages for losing the sport infrastructure, economic and tourist dollars and job creation the Games would have provided.

Time is tight to find a replacement; Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, is likely to win the bid, as it already has the structures in place for the Pan American Junior Games it is hosting in 2025, which could realistically be upgraded for the senior Games. Colombia’s Bogotá had also submitted a bid, but was ruled out for political instability linked to president Gustavo Petro. Buenos Aires withdrew for economic reasons, while the cities of Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Quito, Ecuador, were also originally in the running.

~ with files from Inside The Games