Are you ready, Toronto?
Friday, July 10 is the official kick off for the 2015 Pan American Games. For the next 16 days, the city will host thousands of athletes and officials from North, Central and South America as they compete for gold, silver and bronze. Here's a few things you should know:
Easy there, Negative Nelly. True, the Games added some congestion and there are plenty of tickets left, but try to appreciate the bigger picture here. It's the world's third biggest international multi-sporting games and this year marks only the third time Canada's hosted the event.
Which Canadian city hosted the first two?
The city of Winnipeg in 1967 and 1999.
Alright. I don't live in Toronto. Why should I care now?
Again, bigger picture. Toronto may be the host city, but it's using venues in other cities too. For example, men and women's soccer will take place in Hamilton, Ont., and track cycling will take place in Milton, Ont. at Canada's new (and only) velodrome.
I'll bite. So what other sports can I expect?
The Games focus on summer sports, so think more London 2012 and less Sochi 2014. There won't be any hockey, you've got staple events ranging from archery to wrestling, and then there's the more unique sports like bowling and roller sports figure skating.
I'm a jaded sports fan. Toronto and its sports teams don't exactly deliver winning results.
I feel your pain. But if you don't care for sports, then maybe you'll enjoy the opening ceremonies. Cirque Du Soleil is behind the performance and they've prepared a one-of-a-kind show come July 10th. And if you're not into the circus, maybe you can appreciate the free stuff the city's throwing at visitors and ticket holders while they're here.
Did you say "free"?
Sure did. Wi-Fi, public transit and concerts are just some of the perks visitors and ticket holders can take advantage of.
Neat. Anything else I should know?
For some of the Canadian athletes, the Pan Am Games is a precursor for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Sixteen of the events are also Olympic qualifiers. So if Team Canada were to take the medal in field hockey, men's water polo or the triathlon, then they've got a ticket to represent Canada on an even bigger scale.
So.... Go Team Canada?
Yeah. GO CANADA GO!
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