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Toronto 2015 officials in Guadalajara to study Pan Am Games organization

A man makes his way around venues at the site of the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Oct. 12, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Moving 6,000 athletes through a city of almost five million over the course of two weeks is no easy feat.

It’s a huge undertaking that organizers of the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games will face in four years, and how it’s carried out over the next two weeks is one part of Games management that Toronto organizers will be studying in Mexico.

Toronto’s organizing committee — TO2015 — will have 25 representatives at the Pan American Games that open Friday and run through Oct. 30 in Guadalajara, to study everything from the ticket distribution to the food in the athletes village through the observers’ program.

“The presentations will focus in on all the key components of the Games — transportation, logistics, medical services, ticketing, security. . . all of those things,” said Blair McIntosh, the director of sport for the 2015 Pan Am Games. “We also have the opportunity to meet with our counterparts down there, who have been working on this project for the last five or six years and we really get to see first-hand how they deal with any issues that they have.

“To be able to sit and discuss with people who have been doing your job for the past five years is a real bonus.”

Nineteen new venues have been built for the Guadalajara Games, in the hopes of strengthening sports infrastructure in Mexico.

Despite some construction delays — track and field and rugby stadiums weren’t expected to be finished until the last minute —McIntosh said the venues are impressive.

But he added there was nothing about them that would make Toronto’s organizers rethink their plans.

“In terms of (Toronto’s) venues, I think that our athletes and athletes from across the Pan Am countries are going to be just blown away,” McIntosh said. “Certainly they have some beautiful facilities down in Guadalajara but in terms of the facilities that we’re going to have in place for 2015, we’re really happy with what they are and we know in talking to athletes and sport federations that they’re really forward to competing on those.”

Among the new venues for the Toronto Games are a new aquatics centre and track and field stadium.

McIntosh, who was Canada’s chef de mission for the Vancouver Paralympics, said Guadalajara gives Toronto organizers a chance to meet with each of the sport organizers, both Canadian and international, to gauge what worked in Mexico and what needs to be done better in Toronto.

“I know in talking to a lot of the participating countries, they’re really looking forward to 2015,” he said. “This is an opportunity to really get a sense of how they felt things have gone leading up to the Games in Guadalajara and what their expectations are of our for 2015 so that we can make these a really great set of Games for them.”

McIntosh and other TO2015 officials will return to Guadalajara for the Parapan American Games, Nov. 12-20.

“We’re focusing so much on making sure (Toronto) is an integrated set of Games come 2015, so there’s lots of lessons to be learned as well.”