FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 13, 2007
Contact: HHS Press Office
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Heads Presidential Delegation of the United States for the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to head the delegation representing the United States at the 15th Pan American Games, beginning July 13.
“The Pan American Games draw world-class athletes from countries around the world and unite them in good, healthy competition as one. It is a great honor to represent President Bush and the American people here in Brazil, and to feel further united to the Brazilian people through the warm hospitality our hosts have extended to our delegation,” Secretary Leavitt said.
Prior to the kickoff of the games in Rio de Janeiro, Secretary Leavitt joined Brazil’s Minister of Health, Jose Gomes Temporão for a visit to Fiocruz, Brazil’s largest governmental research institution. There he heard about its primary activities including vaccine production, and discussed potential expansion of joint collaboration on health issues.
Working more closely on health issues in the Americas is an important part of President Bush’s Western Hemisphere initiative. A key step in that initiative came in June when Secretary Leavitt traveled to Panamá for the inauguration of the first regional training center for local health care workers. Six countries partnered with HHS to establish the school, including: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panamá.
Other members of the U.S. delegation to the Pan American Games include:
- Ambassador Clifford Sobel, U.S. ambassador to Brazil
- The Honorable Donna Richardson Joyner, member, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
- Mr. George Prescott Bush, nephew of President Bush and chief operating officer of N3 opportunity fund
- Mr. Luis Tiant, former major league baseball player
The XV Pan American Games run until July 29 in Rio de Janeiro, and will include 5,500 athletes from 42 countries competing in 28 different sports. The United States will have 650 athletes competing in the Games.
The Pan American Games are conducted every four years, always one year before the Olympic Games. Events are similar to the Olympic Games, but also include events such as bowling, squash, roller sports and water skiing that are not part of the Olympic Games.
The first Pan American Games were held in 1951, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. However, its origin dates back to 1932, in the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Inspired by the holding of the first Central American Games six years earlier, the Latin American representatives of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) proposed the creation of a competition that would include all the countries in the Americas, for the purpose of strengthening sport activities in the region.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: May 7, 2011