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Playing the international field.

An extraordinarily picturesque fishing village called Cojimar, located a stone's throw from Havana on Cuba's north coast, is being transformed into a worldclass sports arena. Once home to Ernest Hemingway and the setting for The Old Man and the Sea, Cojimar is now the site of the "Pan American Village" which will house 4,000 to 5,000 of the best athletes of the Americas during the 11th Pan American Games, the Western Hemisphere's most prestigious sporting event.

Thirty-one sports will be on the agenda when athletes representing approximately 38 countries fly into Havana for the games August 2 to 18. The U.S. athletic delegation, estimated to number some 700, is expected to be the largest at the games, even more numerous than the host country's contingent.

Approximately half a mile from the village is a modern Olympic track stadium, a swimming complex, a velodrome, tennis courts and the field on which the soccer finals will be played. A fronton has been built for jai alai, a sport similar to handball but played with long curved wicker baskets attached to the wrist.

Other games will take place in existing facilities. Boxing, a sport at which Cuba excels, will be held in the Hall of Prado. Baseball, a favorite throughout the Americas, will take place in Havanna's Latin American Stadium. Competition will be severe among baseball teams from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and the ever-powerful Cubans.

U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) president Robert Helmick, who visited Cuba in January and again in April remarked on the progress of the preparations. "The housing and the sports facilities are outstanding. There was an immense difference from January to April. The games are going to be spectacular," he added, "hot but nice."

The cost of Cuba's elaborate preparation has not been officially revealed. "I heard the figure $70 million, but that cannot be confirmed," the USOC official said.

ABC Sports will beam the games throughout the world, as will several Latin American and Caribbean television networks. Following the games, the Pan American Village will be turned over as a housing complex to the workers who built it.
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Title Annotation:Cojimar, Cuba picked as site for 11th Pan American Games
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Words:356
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