In the early evening of July 10, thousands of people filled the Pan Am Ceremonies Venue next to the majestic CN Tower in downtown Toronto for the official inauguration of the XVII Pan American Games.
More than 45,000 enjoyed the performance of Cirque du Soleil, which had 625 artists from 25 nations and made an impressive start to the games. The spectacular display showed the awakening of the earth through the birth of two fires, a pow wow, the boreal forest and evoked the triumph of life. Later in the show, the performers represented the disciplines present at the games through dance, music and acrobatics. The highlight came when the legendary Donovan Bailey, Atlanta 1996 Olympic champion passed the Pan Am torch to Canadian basketball star Steve Nash.
After the first part of the Cirque du Soleil performance, the 41 delegations competing in the games appeared one by one to fill the seats in the centre of the stadium accompanied by their native songs. Argentina led the entrances with a large delegation, and others followed, big and small, but all energetic. Cuba, the 13th country to appear, received warm applause for its impressive group.
Double Olympic wrestling champion Mijaín López led the delegation with Cuban flag in hand into the stadium.
After a moment of silence in homage to the former president of the Pan American Sports Organization Mario Vázquez Raña, who passed away in February, the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, declared the Pan American Games officially underway. From here on until July 26, the athletes will play the most important role.
Photos: Mónica Ramírez