The Pan Am Games are over. Now what?
No one will be sleeping in the athletes’ village Monday night, but the region hasn’t seen the last of HOV lanes, blue-bibbed TTC ambassadors or the fleet of 1,200 Pan Ambranded Chevrolet vehicles cruising the streets.
The Pan Ams may be over, but it’s not the end of the Games.
The Parapan Am Games start Aug. 7 and the ongoing Panamania and Pan Am Path Art Relay events are still filling the city’s galleries and public spaces with artworks and performances.
According to organizers, the Games’ impact will last well beyond the summer.
“There are memories and, I believe, legacies that will go on for years to come,” said Saad Rafi, CEO of the organizing committee.
While praising the Pan Ams for its legacy of new sport venues and showing off of Canadian sporting talent on home soil, Rafi suggested the successful Games also proved Toronto is up to hosting major events.
“Hopefully they’ll also see that this region can demonstrate that it can host something as big as these games and do it really, really well,” he said.
Though Rafi didn’t mention the Olympics, others have.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and his Canadian counterpart Marcel Aubut have said a successful Pan Ams bodes well for a 2024 Olympic bid.
Mayor John Tory revealed last week there is “great discussion” at city hall regarding a bid.
The city has until Sept. 15 to declare its interest in bidding on the 2024 slot. Whether the Olympics come to town, a lasting legacy of the Games may be a permanent network of high-occupancy toll lanes inspired by the lessons learned from the 235- kilometre network of temporary HOV lanes put in place for the Pan Ams.
The HOV lanes will remain much of the summer, though with some easing after Monday, when the threeperson minimum occupancy will switch to two-person. That’s slated to last until Aug. 18.
Once those delegations clear out of the village, organizers will prepare for the arrival of Parapan teams on Aug. 2. Volunteers, staff, and their cars will still be working across the region, though on a smaller scale.
“Our workforce continue to have work to do at venues during the transition period throughout the Games footprint to return facilities to their venue owners, as well as prepare the Parapan Am Games,” organizing committee spokesman Kevin Dove wrote in an email.
The 23,000-strong volunteer contingent goes down to 7,000 for Parapan.
The next round of Games involves 1,600 athletes in 12 venues. The reduction in venues means many yellow Pan Am fences around the region are coming down. Crews were already tearing them down around Pan Am Park, which reverts to its better-known name of Exhibition Place, after Sunday night’s closing ceremony.
The Rogers Centre is no longer the official ceremonies venue. The Parapan opening ceremony will be held at York University’s new athletic stadium and the closing ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square.
Nightly fireworks and victory celebrations at the square will be on hold until victory celebrations and concerts pick up again for the Parapans.
The TTC and GO Transit will offer Games-time services for Parapan, including 6 a.m. subway service on Sunday, Aug. 9, additional service to venues, and free travel for ticket holders.