With folk dances evoking nature and pre-Hispanic times, Costa Rica opened on Sunday the 10th edition of the Central American Games, in which some 2,700 athletes will compete for two weeks in San José in 26 sporting events.
Visitors to a packed National Stadium in La Sabana Park, in western San José, were treated to a show of 1,000 artists performing on a cool and windy night.
“These athletes speak of a Central America that responds with a message of peace and brotherhood to the challenges of violence and criminality,” President Laura Chinchilla said at the opening of the games.
The show, called “Costa Rica Pura Vida,” recreated the elements of earth, air, water and fire.
Costa Rican footballer Paulo César Wanchope carried the torch into the stadium, and swimmer Silvia Poll – silver medal winner at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988 – lit the cauldron, designed by renowned Costa Rican sculptor Jorge Jiménez Deredia.
Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama bring their best athletes to the games, which take place in San José for the first time since its inaugural edition in 1973.
After the ceremony, fireworks sparked a blaze in an area of the stadium’s roof. No injuries were reported.
Firefighters brought the fire under control at 9:40 p.m. in the west wing of the stadium, evacuating a few people who remained in the stadium after the inauguration ceremony.
“It was a fire in a small area of the roof’s acrylic tiles,” Fire Chief Héctor Chávez said, adding that it was under control a few minutes later.