July 25, 2019 / 10:44 PM / 3 months ago

Pan Ams party to begin amid U.S. and Canada travel warnings

LIMA (Reuters) - The United States and Canada have re-issued warnings for non-essential travel to parts of Peru as Lima put the finishing touches on preparations to host the Pan Am Games on Thursday.

A security guard stands outside the Estadio Nacional (National Stadium) ahead of the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, July 24, 2019 REUTERS/Susana Vera

Over 6,000 athletes from 41 countries have flooded into the Peruvian capital for the multi-sport showcase and will parade into the National Stadium on Friday as part of a lavish ceremony to kick off the July 26-Aug. 11 competition.

The travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department on July 18 urged U.S. citizens to exercise increased caution in Peru due to crime.

“U.S. citizens should be aware major events are a prime opportunity for thieves and other criminal elements to prey upon unsuspecting tourists,” said the State Department.

The State Department has placed a level four designation, its highest alert, on the Peru-Colombia border area declaring it a ‘Do Not Travel’ zone due to the presence of terror groups and drug traffickers.

Yet it is the crime in and around Lima that drew special attention.

“Crime, including petty theft, carjackings, muggings, assaults, and violent crime, is a concern in Peru, and can occur during daylight hours, despite the presence of many witnesses,” cautioned the State Department. “The risk of crime increases after hours.”

Such warnings, however, are not unfamiliar for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), which faced similar concerns at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The USOPC underlined that it works closely with the State Department to assess threats and that athlete safety is the top priority.

“The safety and security of Team USA is our top priority,” USOPC spokesman Mark Jones told Reuters. “As is always the case, we are working with the U.S. Department of State, the local organisers and the relevant law enforcement agencies in an effort to ensure that our delegation and other Americans travelling to Lima are safe.”

Canada’s global affairs updated their advisory on Tuesday and like the U.S. warned visitors to Peru to exercise a high degree of caution, warning that armed robberies and express kidnappings are on the rise.

“Crime is a problem throughout the country,” warned Canada global affairs. “Petty theft, assault and armed robbery occur frequently.”

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), said it was also taking no added safety precautions but was monitoring global affairs.

Editing by Toby Davis

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