August 7 - Peru's Government has asked Canada's Foreign Minister to get Toronto to withdraw its bid to host the 2015 Pan American Games so that it gives Lima more chance of staging the event.



Jorge Juan Castaneda Mendez, Peru's Ambassador in Canada, has written to Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, Sports Minister Gary Lunn and Michael Chambers, the President of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and sits on the board of directors for the Toronto 2015 bid, making the appeal.



Casteneda Mendez wrote: "Considering the Olympic principles of encouraging equal participation and involvement...Peru has requested the Canadian Olympic Committee to consider postponing its bid and support the one from Lima for the organisation of 2015 Pan-American Games.


"Peru has never organised a major sporting event at either world or hemispheric levels.


"That is why the people and Government of Peru see with enthusiasm and great expectation the possibility of organising - for the first time in our history - the 2015 Pan-American Games in the capital city."


Toronto, Lima and Bogota in Colombia are competing for the Games, which are held every four years, featuring 5,000 athletes 42 countries from countries in North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.


Canada has hosted the Games twice, both times in Winnipeg, in 1967 and 1999.


The 2007 Games were in Rio de Janeiro and the 2011 event will be in Guadalajara, Mexico.


The letter says a positive response to the Peruvian request would be "a gesture of generosity from Canada."


Peru is recovering from an extended civil war that ran from 1980 to 2000.


President Alan Garcia Perez is keen to bring an international event to the country to boost the spirits of Peruvians.


altLima is the fifth largest city in South America with a population of 7.6 million and is also considering a bid to thost the 2020 Olympics.


Castaneda Mendez wrote in the letter that hosting the event [the Pan American Games] "would highlight what our country has achieved to consolidate its socio-economic development, in which sport plays a significant role as a vehicle of understanding among the people of the Americas.


"In addition, the investment to build and renew the infrastructure connected to the Games will have a very positive impact in boosting sport as a whole in Peru," the letter continues.


The Ambassador says it is Canada's right to bid for the Games, and that Peru will respect the decision to continue the challenge for host country.


He said: "We have never had a competition of that sort so for us, if we win the bid, we will need infrastructure, we will need to invest money for the Pan-Americanos."


David Peterson, the former Ontario Premier who is chairing the bid, said that Toronto will not withdraw its bid.


He said: "There's no question about that.


"They have every right to request that but we've got a very, very strong bid and I'm very optimistic.


"There's a high degree of enthusiasm coalescing around this in a way that rarely happens in intergovernmental relationships."


Lunn said that even though Canada will host the 2010 Winter Olympics, the last international sporting event Ontario hosted was in 1930.


He said: "I understand their request [from Peru].


"They've never hosted international games before and they're quite keen.


"We have a very good relationship with Peru.


"[But] I've responded through the Ambassador that that's not something we can entertain.


"The Government of Canada is very committed to 2015 bid for the Pan-Am Games."


The next step for Canada is a visit next month by the Pan American Sports Organisation's (PASO) bid Evaluation Committee.


Peterson said: "They will examine every single aspect of our bid.


"It's just in excruciating detail, budgeted completely and every aspect thought through.


"So I think on the substance we're very, very strong."


Castaneda Mendez still hopes for a late change of heart, though.


He said: "We can expect until the last moment that the decision will be made that maybe Canada could change their minds.


"It is being considered and when we get official reply then we will know how Canada has done, officially."