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Toronto awarded 2015 Pan American Games

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Toronto, which failed twice in bids to land the summer Olympics, was selected to host the 2015 Pan American Games on Friday.

In a secret ballot by the Pan American Sports Organization, Toronto won on the first round with 33 votes, eliminating Lima, Peru, which received 11, and Bogota, which earned 7. One vote of the 52 was null.

“This is a day of celebration, a moment of joy. We won this honor and are very thankful,” said Dalton McGuinty, the premier of Ontario. “The quality of the competition was very hard. Lima and Bogota were great rivals and I’m sure that they will host the games someday.”

Canada has held the event twice – in Winnipeg in 1967 and 1999.

The 2007 games were in Rio de Janeiro, which served as a springboard last month for its winning bid for the 2016 Olympics.

In its presentation on Friday (06.11), Toronto emphasized that many of the facilities needed for the games were already built. Officials suggested their option was “risk free” and said they were planning to build an athletes’ village and an aquatic center, no matter the outcome of the vote. Among the existing venues proposed as event hosts is Roy Thomson Hall (weightlifting).

The vote came in the shadow of problems facing Guadalajara, which is to hold the 2011 games. Mexico’s second city is facing major delays in organization. On Thursday, Guadalajara officials were given two weeks to come up with a guarantee to pay $50 million if the Mexican city fails to deliver on its promise to host the games.

Toronto officials said the games would be held from July 10-26, 2015, with the Parapan American Games set for Aug. 7-14.

The first Pan American Games were held in 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Of the 42 member nations of the Pan Am Sports Organization, only 10 have hosted the event.