The Cali 2021 Junior Pan American Games has been scheduled for September 9 to 19 next year ©Panam Sports

Preparations for the Cali 2021 Junior Pan American Games were praised on the opening day of the Panam Sports General Assembly, but concerns remain over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on qualification and the event itself.

Cali 2021 presented a progress update during the virtual General Assembly today.

The Games will feature 30 sports, with more than 3,500 athletes set to compete between September 9 and 19.

Organisers said that 23 sport venues have been approved for the Games with the majority located in Cali, as well as five sub-venues.

Cali 2021 said that the Games has seen $3.6 million (£2.6 million/€3 million) of investment in venues, which consists of upgrades and renovation work on existing facilities.

No new venues have been required for the Games.

Organisers said that progress has been made in securing sponsors, with five gold partners expected to be announced in the coming months.

Negotiations are ongoing with six silver and six bronze sponsors.

The Junior Pan American Games Flame Lighting Ceremony has been scheduled for August 29 next year, located by the Pacific Ocean.

Cali 2021 said the Torch will tour through local municipalities, before arriving in the host city on September 7 for an athletes’ welcome ceremony.

The Opening Ceremony will take place on September 9.

The Closing Ceremony is scheduled for September 19, with organisers planning a street party event concluding at Arena Cañaveralejo.

The Organising Committee confirmed it has hired staff to develop potential protocols regarding the coronavirus pandemic, stressing that the Games would follow rules outlined by the country’s Health Ministry.

Panam Sports Technical Commission chair Michael Fennell praised the extraordinary work of the Organising Committee, but highlighted qualification as one of the key issues ahead of next year’s Games.

The Games are scheduled to take place from September 9 and 19 ©Panam Sports
The Games are scheduled to take place from September 9 and 19 ©Panam Sports

"We have a few grey areas and there is a lot of work still to be done," he said.

"There is a concern with the qualification process because a number of the events that had been planned are no longer taking place or have been postponed.

"Our sports confederations are reworking the qualification process.

"The continental federations have been collaborating very closely with the organising committee and Panam Sports.

"We have some really outstanding venues, but we need ratification from International Federations to ensure the fields of play are in line with their rules.

"We are concerned about the timelines as NOCs [National Olympic Committees] will have the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as their main project for the year.

"We have to ensure timelines are respected so the Organising Committee can plan various competitions in proper order.

"We also await the further development of special protocols which may have to be in place due to COVID-19.

"This is a continuing monitoring process, but we have to ensure these are clearly understood and respected."

Sara Rosario, who chairs Panam Sports' Coordination Commission for the Cali 2021 Junior Pan American Games, added that baseball and softball competition could potentially be held in Barranquilla.

This would require the sport’s governing body to subsidise travel, with a decision due in the coming months.

The anti-doping laboratory for the Games is also yet to be determined, with the Colombian Olympic Committee hoping to certify the Bogota Laboratory in time for the Games.

The Bogota Laboratory had its World Anti-Doping Agency accreditation revoked back in 2018.

Rosario said authorisation agreements are being devised for legal guardians of underage athletes for participation at the Games, with approval particularly crucial amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cali was chosen as the host in March last year in front of Santa Ana in El Salvador and Monterrey in Mexico.

The city staged the senior Pan American Games in 1971 and the World Games in 2013.

The Junior Pan American Games will be for athletes aged between 18 and 21.

In an attempt to provide young athletes with more opportunities to qualify for high-level international competitions, the winner of each discipline will automatically earn a place at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago.

The budget for the Games is $28 million (£20.8 million/€23 million).