Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski took part in a inauguration ceremony at the Lima 2019 Athletes' Village ©Lima 2019

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski officially inaugurated the Lima 2019 Pan American and Parapan American Games Athletes’ Village construction site here today.

Kuczynski joined PanamSports President Neven Ilic and Lima 2019 leader Carlos Neuhaus in laying symbolic stones during a special ceremony.

The laying of the two "shicra" stones took place on the spot where the Games cauldron is due to be placed.

It is claimed the stones to protect homes from seismic activity,a tradition dating back more than 4,000 years to the ancient Norte Chico culture.

The Village, located in the southeast of Lima in the Villa El Salvador district, is due to comprise 1,092 apartments for the Games.

Chilean consortium Besco-Besalco are set to construct the Village after being confirmed as the contractors earlier this month.

The appointment is considered a major step following mounting concern about whether the crucial project will be ready on time.

It is now hoped that work will be completed by February 2019 - five months before the Opening Ceremony of the Pan American Games on July 26.

Kuczynski claimed the start of the construction process was a major milestone as Peru prepares to host the Games in its capital city.

"I am very happy we can start," he said.

"I am sure my friend [Nevan] Ilic has felt nervous, but I think he is saying, 'Finally, finally' they are beginning and everything will be ready for the Pan American Games.

"We will not slow down.

"Here, we have elected a new area in the city.

"This is a symbolic act to begin this project.

"We are looking to make this a beautiful area, a modern area, that is friendly.

"We hope that not just athletes, but locals will feel happy here.

"Lima 2019 will cement this city's place as a hub for culture, tourism and world-class sport.

"Most importantly, these Games will provide fresh opportunities for a new generation of Peruvians to live healthier, more active lifestyles.

"Peru has faced its challenges this year, but these Games will galvanise our people once again and help us realise our nation's full potential on the world stage."

The Ceremony officially marked the start of one of  the organisers' biggest building projects for the Games ©Lima 2019
The Ceremony officially marked the start of one of the organisers' biggest building projects for the Games ©Lima 2019

The Village will consist of 1,092 apartments spread over seven towers and which will have up to 19 floors.

Athletes and officials staying at the Village will have access to a wide range of training, dining and recreational facilities, it is promised.

The Village will be converted it into affordable housing after the Games.

Ilic expressed concerns last month about the tight schedule of the project, but the Chilean expressed his confidence that progress was now being made.

"The Athletes’ Village is a key part of the Lima 2019 project and we are delighted to see it is underway," he said.

"We are optimistic about the progress being made and the levels of conditions the Village will provide.

"There is no time to lose, but through strong collaboration and hard work we have full confidence Lima 2019 will deliver an outstanding facility for the athletes of the Americas."

Besco-Besalco was selected from a shortlist of seven following a "robust and transparent" procurement process over the last three months, spearheaded by a team of British engineers.

They have worked alongside Peruvian organisers ever since the UK Government was appointed as the main delivery partner for the event.

Chinese and Spanish bids were reportedly submitted, as well as Peruvian ones.

Located in the Villa El Salvador complex, the total cost for the Village is estimated at PEN344 million (£82 million/$106 million/€89 million).

It is expected that Lima 2019 will award contracts for other venues including the velodrome, aquatic centre and second athletics track in the coming months.