With just about eight months before the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games open in the Golden Horseshoe and Greater Toronto Area region, venues are being launched with much fanfare.
The Atos Markham Centre, which will host table tennis, badminton and water polo competitions, was the latest to be unveiled. The $78.5 million multi-purpose facility, located in the heart of the city’s developing downtown core, was jointly funded by the federal government and the City of Markham.
“This remarkable facility will not only be a focal point of activity during the Toronto 2015 Games, but will also serve this community for many years to come,” said federal sports minister, Bal Gosal. “We look forward to welcoming the athletes, coaches and visitors to Canada next summer.”
The Games’ chief executive officer, Saad Rafi, is extremely pleased with the manner in which Markham has embraced the Games.
“Not only have residents signed up by the hundreds to volunteer, but Markham is now home to one of the newest and best athletic facilities in Ontario and Canada,” he said. “Already, we have heard rave reviews from top athletes when they competed here at the 2014 Pan American badminton championships. This means Markham is ready for prime time at the Games.”
Michael Coteau, the provincial minister responsible for the 2015 Games, brushed aside concerns that the cost may exceed the budget.
“This is the first time in a long time that a multi-sport event will be held in this province,” said Coteau. “The excitement is building as is obvious by all the energy at the opening of the new Atos centre. This and the other facilities are a wonderful legacy for the community, both in terms of public recreation and in attracting top sport tourism events to Markham.”
Next year’s Games will mark the first time that a multi-sport event will be held in this province since the first official Commonwealth Games in Hamilton in 1930.
Prior to the Atos Centre’s official launch, Coteau and his daughter Maren posed for photos with the Games’ mascot – Pachi – and the designers Fiona Hong, Michelle Ing, Paige Kunihiro and Jenny Lee.
The Buttonville Public School students entered the mascot creation challenge as part of a school project led by physical education teacher, Mari Ellery. Pachi was selected from nearly 4,000 submissions.
The 2015 Games, which will be held in 32 venues, take place from July 10-26. The Parapan Am Games will run from August 7-14.
A Canadian city has hosted the Games twice. Both occasions were in Winnipeg in 1967 and 1999, which was the last time they were held in North America. Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Guadalajara in Mexico were the last three hosts.