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Colombia: South American Games a Success

The South American Games are held every four years with the participation of the countries affiliated with the South American Sports Organization (Odesur for its initials in Spanish), as well as the participation of the residents of the host city that make it a significant sporting event. The city which hosted the 9th version of the Games was Medellín, Colombia, where between March 19-30 the residents of the city could watch the event, not only in the different competition stages, but around the city in general. Approximately 3,000 athletes traveled around the city during the duration of the Games on the Metro, which was declared the official transport for the athletes.

Gymnastics competition by Telemedellín and used under a CC license.

Gymnastics competition by Telemedellín and used under a CC license.

Generally, the opinions towards these types of events are very positive and the response by the citizenry exalts the work by the public administration. From the moment of the Games’ inauguration, until the closing ceremonies, Twitter was one of the platforms where one can follow what was happening in Medellín with the hashtag #suramericanos. Without a doubt, there were a lot of excitement in the tweets after each medal was awarded, and through the Twitter account of the local television channel Telemedellín [es], the Twitter community could find out the results in the various sporting events in realtime. The joy from the “paisas” (name given to local residents of Medellín and surrounding areas) was reflected in these tweets. Mauricio Jaramillo (@mauriciojaramil) writes:

Presidente de Odesur declara los #Suramericanos de 2010 como los mejores de la historia. ¡Felicitaciones, Medellín!

Odesur's President states that the 2010 South American Games were the best in its history. Congratulations, Medellín!

Ana Vélez (@lananavelez) reports after the closing ceremonies:

Y se nos acabaron los #suramericanos Medellín 2010… anoche estuvo bonita la clausura. Sigamos organizando eventos así en Medellín.

The South American Games Medellín 2010 are over… the closing ceremonies last night were beautiful. Let's continue to organize events like this in Medellín.

In the digital magazine Equinoxio [es], one day before the end of the competition, a paragraph was published that summarized the general citizen perception:

Estas olimpiadas suramericanas han sido un verdadero éxito, tanto en lo deportivo —por la resonante victoria colombiana, que barrió en disciplinas como el patinaje, ciclismo y bolos, además de haber ganado el torneo de fútbol, al mando de Ramiro Viáfara— como en la organización. Medellín y las sedes alternas se lucieron con la puesta a punto de los escenarios dispuestos para cada una de las disciplinas. La gente asistió y apoyó masivamente a los deportistas nacionales y extranjeros. Las delegaciones fueron acogidas cálidamente en la Villa Olímpica. La ceremonia inaugural fue impresionante.

These South American Olympiads have been a true success, in the sporting area – for the resounding Colombian victory, which won in disciplines like skating, cycling, and bowling, as well as the football tournament under the command of Ramiro Viáfara – as well as the organization. Medellín and the alternate sites shone at each of the stages made available for each of the disciplines. The people attended and supported national and foreign athletes on a massive scale. The delegations were warmly welcomed at the Olympic Village. The opening ceremony was impressive.

However, despite the joy and general pride, Lully Posada, Global Voices author writes that one the same day as the Games’ Opening Ceremony, workers protests around the Stadium [es].

Me pidieron que utilizara una vía alterna a la que estaba señalizada y rodeada por una cantidad exagerada de policías, que tenían un cerco en el sector debido a una manifestación de la clase obrera. Sí, era la otra cara de los juegos, la clase trabajadora que se había reunido desde sus diferentes grupos para dejar un precedente de queja por la carencia de un empleo digno, un empleo bien remunerado, las injusticias con el trabajador colombiano y la posible venta de empresas.

I was asked to use an alternate route than the one which was marked and surrounded by an exaggerated amount of police, who had a secured a perimeter around the sector due to a protest by the working class. Yes, it showed another other side of the games, the working class that had gathered from different groups to show their complaint about the lack of decent jobs, well-paying jobs, the worker injustice in Colombia, and the possible sale of businesses.

Some consider that in addition, the Games were strategic to hide the social problems of the city [es]. Tomáz García writes:

Llegan a la ciudad los “IX Juegos Suramericanos Medellín 2010″, obligando a los paisas a vestirse como gente decente y prepararse para simular ante los turistas que Medellín vale la pena.

The “IX South American Games Medellín 2010″ have arrived, forcing the paisas (residents of Medellín) to dress like decent people and prepare themselves to simulate to the tourists that Medellín is worth the trouble.

There were some bloggers who also attempted to add some humor to the context of the Games, such as the blogger from Globoterror [es] who wrote about the notoriety of Medellín and the drug trade by satirically saying that the Games had been thinking about eliminating drug testing as a way of “stimulating the local economy.”

Before, during, and after the conclusion of the Games, there was one question that many in Medellín had, as expressed by Jorge Luis Rocha of the blog Cuántas Palabras [es]:

JuanSe Molina, contacto en Facebook y blogger, en un comentario sarcástico y extremista, decía que en los Juegos Sudamericanos Medellín 2010 iba a estar gente de todo el mundo… menos de Medellín, cosa que me parece muy acertada. Hace un año la ciudad vivió la visita del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) y durante esa semana los gamines, habitantes de la calle o desechables -como los quieran llamar- desaparecieron. No se sabía adónde los habían mandado, el hecho es que no se veían por ahí.

JuanSe Molina, a Facebook contact and blogger, said in a sarcastic and extremist comment that in the South American Games Medellín 2010 there would be people from all around the world… except from Medellín, which is something that seems to be correct. One year ago, the Inter-American Bank visited the city and during that week the “gamines” (street dwellers) or disposables – or however you want to call them – disappeared. No one knows where they were sent to, but the point is that there were not seen around here.
Translated by Eduardo Ávila

1 comment

  • Hola Catalina, no había tenido la oportunidad de agradecerle por la cita a mi artículo porque estaba sin internet.
    Sin embargo, aprovecho ahora para felicitarla por el artículo. Me honra que mi post haya sido de utilidad para mostrar ‘la otra cara de los juegos suramericanos’.
    Un abrazo,

    Tomáz.

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