XIV Pan American Games
HostSanto Domingo,
Dominican Republic
Events338 in 35 sports
OpeningAugust 1
ClosingAugust 17
Opened byPresident Hipólito Mejía
Cauldron lighterLuis Pujols
Main venueFélix Sánchez Olympic Stadium

The 2003 Pan American Games were held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from August 1 to 17, 2003. The successful bid for the Games was made in the mid-1990s, when Dominican Republic had one of the highest growth rates in Latin America.[1][2]

All 42 PASO countries and over 5,223 athletes pre-registered for participation in the XIV Pan American Games. An additional 2,425 trainers and delegates attended.[3] The United States pre-registered the most athletes (713) and Saint Lucia entered the least (6). The host country entered 562 athletes.


Main article: Bids for the 2003 Pan American Games

In December 1998, in Panama City, Panama, Santo Domingo beat Guadalajara, Mexico, and Medellín, Colombia, in the voting to host the Games.[4] Guadalajara went on to host the 2011 Pan American Games.[5]

2003 Pan American Games bidding results
City NOC Round 1 Round 2
Santo Domingo  Dominican Republic 24 28
Guadalajara  Mexico 21 24
Medellin  Colombia 6

Games highlights

Opening ceremony

The games opened at Estadio Olímpico Félix Sánchez before a crowd of 48,000. The exhibition featured some 10,000 performers, some dressed in costumes ranging from skeletons to men in tuxedoes and top hats, typifying a Dominican carnival.

Local baseball heroes Juan Marichal and Pedro Martínez were on hand for the ceremony. They completed the final lap of the torch and with Luis Pujols, the nephew of the San Francisco Giants coach of the same name, dressed in a Dominican baseball uniform, swung a bat at a baseball sitting atop the mini-flame which triggered the cauldron.

The ceremony also was attended by then-President of the Dominican Republic Hipólito Mejía, Pan American Sports Organization president Mario Vázquez Raña and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Budget and venues

Main article: Venues of the 2003 Pan American Games

The Dominican Republic spent at least $175 million for the 17-day sporting event. Two Olympic parks were renewed or built, the Centro Olímpico Juan Pablo Duarte and Parque del Este complex. Laborers were forced to work right up until the opening ceremony because of construction delays, electrical blackouts, and questionable venue quality. In the end, the Dominican Republic refurbished existing sites and produced beautiful new facilities.

Although a few logistical incidents occurred (a team was unable to shower when the athletes village lacked water, teams were missing tennis balls or towels),[1] U.S. team chief Roland Betts, commented "At times it has been a great struggle, but we are very excited and proud to see the venues. I believe these venues are as good as or better than any that have been created for the Pan American Games." Other attendees agreed that logistical and venue problems declined greatly during the Games.

Concerns and controversies

Numerous protest marches were staged to call attention to austerity measures, including import taxes and spending cuts, and neglect of impoverished areas. During the Games, the protests were banned from the city. However, the Dominicans warmly embraced the Games with pride, especially when local heroes such as Félix Sánchez won the first local gold medal at the 400-meter hurdles and broke the Pan Am record at the games first week.[1]

While praising the first-rate facilities, critics decried the huge cost overruns, the high payroll of the organizers, and concerns over the Dominican Republic's ability to maintain the venues after the Games.[6]

Medal count

For a more comprehensive list, see 2003 Pan American Games medal table.

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 a 118 80 73 271/270/269
2  Cuba 72 41 39 152
3  Canada a 29 57 42/41 128/127
4  Brazil 29 40 54 123
5  Mexico a 20 27 32/31 79/78

^ The medal counts for the United States, Canada and Mexico are disputed[citation needed].


The 2003 games marked the return of basque pelota[7] and waterskiing to the Games.[8]


The 2003 Games' mascot was a tank top clad manatee named Tito.[9]

2003 Parapan American Games

Main article: 2003 Parapan American Games

In 2003, Parapan American Games was not hosted in Santo Domingo, but rather in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The event featured 1,500 athletes from 28 countries competed in nine sporting events.[10] This was the 2nd and last Parapan American Games that was not tied to the Pan American Games.


  1. ^ a b c Gonzalez, David (August 8, 2003). "PAN AMERICAN GAMES; Games Lift Spirits in Santo Domingo". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 4, 2018. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  2. ^ Ready or not on Sports Illustrated, 1 Aug 2003 (archived)
  3. ^ "panamgames2003.com". panamgames2003.com. Archived from the original on November 6, 2007. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  4. ^ "Sede Juegos Panamericanos Santo Domingo 2003" [2003 Pan American Games Venue Santo Domingo]. www.colimdo.org/ (in Spanish). Dominican Republic Olympic Committee. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  5. ^ "PLUS: PAN AMERICAN GAMES; Santo Domingo Is Named as Host". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 7, 1998. Archived from the original on April 12, 2016. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  6. ^ "panamgames2003.com". panamgames2003.com. Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  7. ^ "COB". timebrasil.cob.org.br. Archived from the original on April 21, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  8. ^ "Setting sites for the Dominican Republic" (PDF). iwsfranking.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  9. ^ "XIV Pan American Games - Santo Domingo (República Dominicana) 2003". Quadro de Medalhas. Archived from the original on October 4, 2016. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  10. ^ "Disabled World". Retrieved August 26, 2015.[dead link]
Preceded byWinnipeg XIV Pan American Games Santo Domingo (2003) Succeeded byRio de Janeiro