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South American fire is lit with Andean rituals to go to Asunción

On Thursday, September 8, the pre-Hispanic citadel of Tiahuanaco, in the Bolivian Altiplano, witnessed the lighting of the fire that will accompany the 12th edition of the South American Games to be held in Asunción, Paraguay, from next October 1.

The ceremony, held at the gates of the temple of Kalasasaya, one of the most representative structures of Tiahuanaco, was preceded by Andean rituals in which two “amautas” or wise Aymara presented an offering to the “Pachamama” or Mother Earth to ask for good omens for the games.

There was also a parade of flags of the countries participating in the competition and the interpretation of native Bolivian music.

The ceremony to light the fire began at the top of the Akapana pyramid.
The ceremony to light the fire began at the top of the Akapana pyramid. (Photo: internet reproduction)

The event was attended by the Bolivian Minister of Health and Sports, Jeyson Auza, the Vice Minister of Sports, Cielo Veizaga, diplomats from Paraguay and Venezuela, local and indigenous authorities from Tiahuanaco, and the president of the Bolivian Olympic Committee (COB), Marco Arze, who also represented the South American Sports Organization (Odesur).

Arze recalled that the Odesur statute foresees that the flame of the South American Games is lit every four years in this pre-Hispanic citadel, one of the main spiritual centers of the Andean world.

“Hence the transcendence and importance of celebrating this event for the world, especially South America,” he said.

The lighting of the fire symbolizes “the heat of sport, of physical activity, of the effort made by athletes to break their own records” and is also the prelude to a competition that will bring together 15 countries of the region in the Paraguayan capital, said the leader.

“We all want through this fire to unite the athletes of the world, the peoples of the world, and mainly the South Americans,” he added.

In turn, Auza stressed that the fire “is the energy that is born in this sacred place of Tiahuanaco and that will go this time to Asunción to celebrate the twelfth South American Games Asunción 2022”.

“May this fire represent the energy of our athletes, our culture, our ancestors, the pride of being what we are and of fighting in a situation of total integration and brotherhood. That is what sport represents,” added the minister.

He also said that it is “a privilege” to know that every four years in Bolivia, the flame of the games is lit and that it will be “the representation of that energy, of unity, of integration”.

THE FIRE BURNS

The ceremony to light the fire began at the top of the Akapana pyramid, from where a group of young people dressed as the chaskis, the messengers of the Inca empire, descended to deliver the torch to the “amautas”, who lit it using the fire of the offering to Mother Earth.

The wise men then handed the torch to Minister Auza and the administrative director of Odesur, Larissa Schaerer, who, in turn, gave it to the outstanding Bolivian athlete Vidal Basco for a tour inside the archeological complex and the symbolic departure together with other athletes who participated in the event.

The delegation then moved to a military air base in the city of El Alto, neighboring La Paz, from where the torch will be sent to Paraguayan territory.

In 2018, Asunción received the baton from the Bolivian city of Cochabamba to organize the new edition of the South American Games to be held between October 1 and 15 with the participation of some 4,500 athletes.

Bolivia will be represented by 296 athletes for whom Basco asked for the support of the authorities.

“On behalf of all the Bolivian athletes who will be present at the South American Games, I want to say that we are going to give all possible effort to bring that gold, silver, and bronze medal,” said the athlete.

The torch is lit in Tiahuanaco in memory of the first South American Games, hosted by the nearby city of La Paz in 1978, then called the Cruz del Sur Sports Games.

With information from EFE

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