There are the nay sayers out there. There are those who did not want the Pan Am games here. Traffic has become a nightmare. How can our already clogged freeways be reduced from six to four lanes? And yes traffic has been heavier. There are those who worry about the costs. Surely this thing will have cost more than the $2.4 billion budget. And certainly as with all big projects there will cost overruns. There are those who say that we have not sold enough tickets to the games. And yes I have been a bit disappointed to see more than a few empty seats at some venues. There are those who say that not enough hotel rooms have been sold. And that maybe true but I am sure that hotels who jacked up their prices were not expecting stiff competition from the AirBnB types. There are those who are just cranky.
I am not one of those. Yes there have been some moments of worry and uncertainty. But here is what I have observed with the games so far. First, there is a sense of national pride. The opening ceremonies were wonderful. The parade of nations is always spectacular and my heart always leaps with excitement as the Canadian team comes into view.
Second is civic pride. While I will be moving soon, Toronto has been my home, and I am glad she looks good. This has been our chance to show ourselves off to the Americas. And I thought our city looked quite spectacular- vibrant, multicultural, and exciting.
Thirdly, it is great to live in a multicultural city. But even more so this past week it has been great to hear a lot of Spanish,French, and Portuguese here. Also people have worn t-shirts and jackets with foreign flags sewn on them. Also for those ex pats from the other Pan American nations they have been able to cheer for their old country. And at venues like Nathan Phillips square we have been able to hear entertainers from across the hemisphere and learn about the cultures of other countries.
Fourthly, I have observed that we are being good hosts. People seem to be friendlier during these games. Playing tourist on Wednesday, there were no shortage of people who were willing to take my photo with my camera- even the one woman who kept shooting her own shadow on the sidewalk instead of my smiling mug. There was also the man who ran after me for half a block in order to return my hat to me which I had left at the bench.
Fifthly, there are the athletes themselves. How amazing are they? I have sat in awe as they showed their skill, speed and strength. And as a Canadian it is nice to see the Maple Leaf raised high at the medal presentations. However all of the athletes from all countries are winners in my eyes because all of them represent the hopes and dreams of their countries.
It is easy to moan what the games have cost and the extra driving time in the cars. But I think things like the Pan Am games show that we can put aside our differences and come together as one human family. This is the true legacy of these games. Blessings