1999 Pan American Games

The 1999 Pan American Games, officially the XIII Pan American Games or the 13th Pan American Games, was a major international multi-sport event that was held from July 23 to August 8, 1999, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Approximately 5,000 athletes from 42 nations participated at the games. The competition was marred by a total of 7 positive drug tests.[1]

XIII Pan American Games
Host cityWinnipeg, Canada
MottoAmericas' Fest
Events330 in 35 sports
OpeningJuly 23
ClosingAugust 8
Opened by
StadiumWinnipeg Stadium
1995 Mar del Plata 2003 Santo Domingo

Financially, the 1999 games were a success, generating a surplus of $8.9 million[2][3] through a combination of fiscal restraint[4] and the contribution of nearly 20,000 volunteers.[5]

The 1999 Pan American Games were the second Pan American Games hosted by Canada and Winnipeg.[2] Previously, Winnipeg hosted the 1967 Pan American Games.


Winnipeg beat both Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Bogota, Colombia in 1994 to win hosting rights for the event.[6]

Medal count

1 Host nation

To sort this table by nation, total medal count, or any other column, click on the icon next to the column title.

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States (USA) a106119/11079/80304/296
2 Cuba (CUB) a70/6940/3947157/155
3 Canada (CAN) 1645280196
4 Brazil (BRA)253244101
5 Argentina (ARG)25192872

^ The medal counts for the United States and Cuba are disputed.


330 events in 35 sports were contested.

Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of medal events contested in each sport.

First-time events

The 1999 games marked the debut of the following competitions in the Pan American Games

World records set

  • Weightlifting – 77 kilogram clean & jerk – 202.5 kilograms hoisted by Idalberto Aranda (Cuba)

Impact of positive drug tests

Perhaps the greatest drug scandal in the sport of track and field, since Ben Johnson's 1988 disqualification, occurred here when the world's only eight foot high jumper Javier Sotomayor tested positive for cocaine. A Cuban national hero, his subsequent suspension was fought from the highest levels, Fidel Castro claiming it was a conspiracy. Despite a second positive test for cocaine a few months later, Sotomayor eventually had his suspension reduced by a year,[9] just in time to win a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics. A year later he retired facing another positive drug test.[10]

Canada was stripped of its gold medal for inline hockey when the team's goaltender Steve Vézina tested positive for multiple banned substances.[1]


The Pan Am Pool, built for the 1967 games, featured in the 1999 games for aquatic events.

The Winnipeg Velodrome, also built for the 1967 games, had become obsolete and disused for cycling and so was demolished prior to the 1999 games. The 1999 games used a temporary facility at Red River Exhibition Park.

A portion of the Pan American Games Society (1999) budget supported the refurbishment of University of Manitoba campus residences to serve as the Athletes Village, the upgrade of various sport and training facilities including the Pan Am Stadium (University Stadium), which had hosted events of the 1967 games, and the construction of the new Investors Group Athletic Centre.[20]


The 1999 Games' mascot features two birds named Duck (Wood duck) and Lorita (Parrot).[21]


The 1999 Pan Am games have been "seen by many Winnipeggers as a chance to put their city squarely in the international spotlight".[22] Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray became nationally well known as a result of the Games and thanks to extensive coverage by the CBC, anchored by CBC Sports' Brian Williams. However, the Games themselves only had mixed success, as the Pan Am Games ranked below the Olympics and Commonwealth Games in international prestige. The Games cost $129 million CDN and finished with a financial surplus of $8.8 million CDN.

Hosts Canada celebrated its medal haul, which was the second best after the United States. However, some considered Canada's results overrated, since the US amassed the most medals with a mostly second-string team while Canada and Cuba had fielded their top national athletes. Cuba also managed more golds than Canada, despite having a smaller roster.[22]

Frequent comparisons were made to the 1967 Pan Am Games, also hosted by Winnipeg, where the United States had fielded many rising stars, such as Mark Spitz. By comparison, the Americans had sent their "B" team to the 1999 Games. No major US networks covered the Pan Am Games, while newspapers only sent second-string reporters instead and the stories never made front page news.[22] Many high-profile athletes, of all nationalities, such as US champion sprinters and Brazilian football players, were in Europe during these Pan Am games, taking part in professional events. South American nations (with the exception of Uruguay) did not send their under-23 male soccer teams after the organizing committee refused to pay appearance money to CONMEBOL.[23]

1999 Parapan American Games, Mexico City

In 1999 Parapan American Games was not hosted in Winnipeg but rather in Mexico City. The inaugural event involved 1,000 athletes from 18 countries competing in four sports.[24] and Mexico had the most medals for the Games.


  1. "'Best ever' Pan Am Games end". CBC News. August 9, 1999. Archived from the original on May 10, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2009.
  2. Dakshana Bascaramurty (July 3, 2015). "Glamour, pride and cash: Why cities compete to put on a sports spectacle". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on July 21, 2015. Retrieved July 16, 2015. Winnipeg – the only other Canadian city ever to be a Pan Am host, which it has done twice – had a modest goal as well as a modest budget.
  3. "Pan Am surplus higher than expected". CharityVillage Ltd. April 24, 2000. Archived from the original on November 16, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  4. "Gambling on the Games". Turner Sports Digital Services, Inc. August 7, 1999. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  5. Brad Ohlman (May 10, 2000). "Canadian Olympic Association 1999 Annual Report" (PDF). Canadian Olympic Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 24, 2012. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  6. "Winnipeg ready to host 1999 Pan Am Games". www.cbc.ca/. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). July 3, 1999. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  7. "Pan Am Games – Volleyball Canada". Volleyball Canada. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
  8. "Pan American Games – Sunfish Class". International Sunfish Class Association. Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  9. cocaine, Owen Slot reveals how the IAAF let Javier Sotomayor off the hook despite a second positive test for (August 12, 2000). "Athletics: New twist to Cuban drugs scandal". Retrieved April 2, 2018 via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  10. Mackay, Duncan (November 26, 2001). "Javier Sotomayor faces drug ban". the Guardian. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  11. "Cycling News and Analysis". Cyclingnews. August 6, 1999. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  12. "1999 News Releases" (Press release). City of Winnipeg. August 4, 1999. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  13. "Pan American Games History". www.kyokushincanada.com. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  14. "1999 News Releases" (Press release). City of Winnipeg. August 6, 1999. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  15. "University of Manitoba Annual Report 1999–2000". University of Manitoba. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  16. "1999 News Releases" (Press release). City of Winnipeg. August 5, 1999. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  17. "Cycling News and Analysis". Cyclingnews. August 1, 1999. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  18. News. "August 6, 1999 - News Releases - Winnipeg.ca". winnipeg.ca. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  19. "1999 News Releases" (Press release). City of Winnipeg. August 7, 1999. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  20. "1999 Pan Am Games News – Legacies". University of Manitoba. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  21. Games, Quadro de Medalhas - English - Pan American. "XIII PAN AMERICAN GAMES WINNIPEG 1999 - MEDALS TABLE PAN AM 1999 - Pan American Games - Winnipeg Canada 1999". www.quadrodemedalhas.com. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  22. Bergman, Brian. "Pan Am Games Wrap Up". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  23. "Any takers for the Pan Am Games? Winnipeg? Anybody?". torontosun.com. October 1, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  24. http://marketingfemaleathletes.com/2015/08/19/parapan-american-games/
Preceded by
Mar del Plata
XIII Pan American Games

Succeeded by
Santo Domingo

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