A storm driven twister slammed into the stadium in the western town of Mayaguez hours before the CACSO games were due to begin. It tore down a lighting tower, smashing cars and injuring five people delaying the opening ceremonies of the games by a day.
The 21st edition of the Central American and Caribbean Games began Sunday in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, after tropical winds delayed the start of the competition. Originally scheduled for Saturday the ceremony went off without a hitch on Sunday.
The tornado hit the main venue of the game on Saturday afternoon just before the XXI Central American and Caribbean Games were set to begin. A major storm with tropical storm strength winds are to blame for the tornado which spun off the warm ocean water sending spouts of sea water shooting over the wind battered stadium where 31 countries have come together to compete for medals over the next two weeks.
The crowd that gathered early Saturday in the parking lot and in the stadium were eventually evacuated after the major weather system had passed. Evaluations of the damage and repairs were made in time for Sundays ceremony. The Isidoro García Park joins the Central American and Caribbean Athletic Stadium, the Aquatic Complex, the Central American Villa, the Sports and Recreation Palace and the International Zone as some of the venues for the 2010 Games.
The two week long games feature 31 nations who compete in 39 events including volleyball, basketball, softball, badminton, fencing and swimming. The games, like the Olympic Games take place every four years.
The Central American and Caribbean Sports Organization Games are the oldest continuing regional games in the world, and only the Olympics have run longer. Mexico, Cuba and Guatemala were the three countries present at the first games, which were then called the Central American Games. In 1935 their name was changed to Central American and Caribbean Games to reflect expanding participation. Thirty one nations took part in the 1993 games in Puerto Rico and the 1998 games in Venezuela.
More than 5,500 athletes are competing in the Central American and Caribbean Games. The competition and the tourism anticipated from the game is expected to bring over $450 million in investment to Puerto Rico.