October 14 - Neither the security fears, construction delays nor the tail end of Hurricane Jova that has caused heavy rainfall across Guadalajara over the past week could prevent the Mexican city from hosting a quite spectacular Opening Ceremony for the 2011 Pan American Games here at the 50,000 capacity Omnilife Stadium.

Even the rain, which had dominated the build-up to the event, stopped failing as the sun came out for an event attended number of high-profile dignitaries, including International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge and the Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

It was Calderón who officially opened the competition at the conclusion of the Ceremony as he took centre stage on the podium and declared in Spanish: "With the certainty that these Games symbolise a fraternal union, peace and the prosperity that we wish for all people of the Americas; I solemnly open the 16th Pan American Games."

The Opening Ceremony had been in doubt even 24 hours before it was scheduled to take place because of the heavy rain in the week but that was not at all evident as a variety of electric performances continuously bought a deafening and passionate Mexican crowd to their feet.

A colourful dance began proceedings with Mexican vaqueros - or cowboys - riding their horses at a quick gallop around the centre of the Omnilife Stadium.

It was shortly after that the parade of the 42 nations began.

Argentina were the first to complete a lap of the stadium but the loudest cheer was unsurprisingly reserved for hosts Mexico who received a giant ovation that simply rocked the stadium.

The delegation entered wearing giant white sombreros and white tops with black trousers for the men and black skirts for the women and they achieved their goal of getting the entire crowd on their feet once again and cheering for their athletes.

The parade was followed by music and the speech from Calderon before a number of Mexican sporting legends, including footballer Rafael Marquez and boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, carried in the Pan American Sports Organisation (PASO) Flag which was raised to the Official Anthem.

It was then that an array of bright fireworks marked the conclusion of the Ceremony with Mexico set to host its biggest sporting event since the 1986 World Cup with over 6,000 athletes set to compete across 36 sports.

It was a fitting Opening for the event at the stunning Omnilife Stadium, one of the new venues for the Games after it was completed last year at a cost of $200 million (£126 million).

The venue will also host the Closing Ceremony of the competition as well as the football tournament while the first ever public match played in it was a friendly between Guadalajara and Manchester United last year.

Guadalajara won the game 3- 2, with the first goal at the stadium scored by Javier "Chicharito" Hernández playing for Guadalajara.

Hernández played the entire first half for Guadalajara and switched sides to Manchester United in the second half, symbolically sealing his transfer contract signed in March 2010.

The first official match was the first game of the final of the Copa Libertadores which saw Inter de Porto Alegre beat Guadalajara 2–1.

-Tom Degun

Source: www.insidethegames.biz


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