Cali 2021 President Baltazar Medina admits the Organising Committee needed Panam Sports' assistance in the lead-up to the Junior Pan American Games ©Agencia.Xpress Media

The Junior Pan American Games here in Cali has entered its second week and despite a successful start, Organising Committee President Baltazar Medina still wishes certain things had been done differently.

Speaking to insidethegames, Medina admitted that the Organising Committee had allowed a certain level of complacency to set in and had to rely on assistance from Panam Sports.

"I think that one of the things you have to be cautious of in order to host an event is time," Medina, who was President of the Colombian Olympic Committee from 2009 until 2021, said.

"Sometimes a city will be chosen as the hosts, and they think they have a lot of time because there are three years left and they begin to relax and the tasks start to accumulate and they come together at the same time and that’s where difficulties arise.

"I have to recognise that this did happen to us a bit, not so much because we let the amount of time surprise us, but more so around the economic crisis that our country faced because of the pandemic which limited the resources provided by the national, state and local Government.

"This caused many problems for us but fortunately in this moment, Panam Sports not only understood the situation, but also helped us overcome it.

"They offered us their collaboration including resources that we didn’t have available at the time."

Baltazar Medina, right, felt the pressure to stage the Junior Pan American Games amid social unrest, unprecedented weather and the COVID-19 pandemic ©Agencia.Xpress Media
Baltazar Medina, right, felt the pressure to stage the Junior Pan American Games amid social unrest, unprecedented weather and the COVID-19 pandemic ©Agencia.Xpress Media

In addition to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the mounting pressure of the clock ticking down, the Organising Committee also had to face up to the reality of social unrest in the city and unprecedented weather.

Cali was the epicentre of civil unrest in Colombia earlier after the country's President Iván Duque Márquez lowered the tax threshold, which negatively impacted some of the nation's poorest people.

Protests were met with a violent crackdown from security forces and dozens were killed.

"Overcoming the social state of this city and our country throughout the months of April and May was difficult," Medina admitted to insidethegames.

"This undoubtedly added to our country’s economic crisis because of the costly damage caused.

"Also, this winter we faced severe rains that we’ve never had before.

"This not only set back our construction for various projects but also caused damage to many facilities with the flooding of sports venues and other equipment.

"In the final stage of preparations this was our greatest concern.

"Fortunately, as the Games drew near this problem has been improving and we have overcome the challenges posed, but it was undoubtedly our greatest concern during this final stretch."

Cali 2021 is the inaugural edition of the Junior Pan American Games and was originally scheduled for September 9 to 19, before being postponed. 

COVID-19 was blamed for the two-and-a-half-month delay.