There is probably no other public figure in Peru who can catch the whole country’s attention as football striker Paolo Guerrero.
When Lima kicked off the one year countdown to the 2019 Pan American and Parapan American Games, a surprise video message from Guerrero was one of the highlights of the celebrations at the city’s iconic Plaza de Armas.
“Hello friends. In one year Lima will host the biggest sporting event on the continent – the Pan American and Parapan American Games.
“As a Peruvian, I feel immensely proud as this is a great opportunity to prove that we can compete at the highest level, always in the spirit of fair play. The Games are also a great opportunity to build modern sporting infrastructure that will be left as a legacy for all of Peru.”
Guerrero was the star of the national football team that qualified for a World Cup for the first time in 36 years. Thousands of Peruvians travelled to Russia to see the team play in June and Guerrero urged them to give Lima 2019 the same backing.
“I ask you to not put away your jerseys. Keep supporting us and together we can show the world that we can add commitment to our enthusiasm in order to achieve our dreams. Let’s all get ready for the Games.”
Thousands of Peruvians took part in the celebrations at Lima’s Historic Centre. They included demonstrations of a series of Para sports like wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, Para archery and blind football.
A meet and greet area was set up for the public to engage with some of Peru’s top athletes who will take part in the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.
The event concluded with the unveiling of a Lima 2019 clock showing the countdown to the biggest sporting festival ever to take place in Peru.
The festivities were organised by the Lima 2019 Organising Committee, together with the Peruvian Olympic Committee, Peruvian Paralympic Committee and Peruvian Institute of Sport.
“Our Games will feature world-class and sustainable venues designed for maximum social and sporting legacy. We are building many of these venues in underserved neighbourhoods to ensure the legacy affects these communities,” Lima 2019 Organising Committee President Carlos Neuhaus said.
“The Parapan American Games will also create opportunities and improve accessibility for people with an impairment across Peru,” Neuhaus said.
The Lima 2019 Games will see 1,890 athletes compete in 17 sports between 23 August and 1 September 2019.