It was a big and colorful party that the organizers threw on 25 January to launch the countdown to The World Games 2013 held in Colombia's third biggest city Cali. But as rains fell for sixty hours straight on Cali and the Cauca Valley, sending water flooding into houses everywhere, the President Santos also assured the residents that all humanitarian aid is guaranteed.
Part of President Santos' speech:
"We are gathered for a celebration today, for the launch of an event that is important to Colombia. Unfortunately, at same time, there are thousands of fellow citizens, families living very close to where we are celebrating, who are affected by the flooding caused by the river Cauca. To them, we express our solidarity!
Ever since the Cauca River went over its banks, the Director of Risk Management, Dr. Carlos Ivan Marquez, and his entire team ensure that all citizens receive the help they need. And I can guarantee that all the humanitarian aid is and will be dispensed.
We will continue to monitor the emergency situation over the days to come, so that all victims of the flooding receive the assistance they need.
But ultimately, this is a tragedy foretold.
The slogan of The World Games 2013 – “Fair Play to the Planet!” – is most appropriate for what we live through. It is precisely the motto that we need to apply now.
This tragedy was pre-announced, because we have invaded the Cauca river areas, and we have allowed people to build in territory that belongs to the river. This territory is not ours! The Mayor of Cali and the Governor of the Cauca Valley, together with the national government, must take corrective measures now. And only long-term and circumspective planning will ultimately rectify the problem.
But today we are also here to launch The World Games, an event that is important to Cali, to the Cauca Valley and to Colombia.
Colombia took on the FIFA U-20 World Cup last year. We said then, in a ceremony very similar to this one, that we should do everything within our powers to ensure that it is considered the best in the World Cup history. We succeeded! We succeeded thanks to the collaboration of the organizers, of the seven host cities – Cali included, of course – and of all the football fans throughout Colombia. We staged the best FIFA U-20 World Cup to date.
It is not us who are saying this; it is the visitors, FIFA and the national federations who attended the event.
President Froehlich, we shall also do everything possible to make the ninth edition of The World Games, staged next year in Cali, the best ever."
Read the full text of President Santos' speech here (in Spanish).
During the ceremony at the Coliseum Evangelista Mora, IWGA President Froehlich handed the flag of The World Games over to President Santos and advised the citizens of Cali that in order to organize the best games ever, their unconditional support will be required.