Athletes participating in the Pan Am games in Mexico this month will be guarded by unmanned drones, infrared-equipped Black Hawk helicopters, hundreds of surveillance cameras and more than 11,000 police officers.
It's the first time since 1975 that Mexico hosts the Pan American Games. About 6,000 athletes from 42 countries will take part in the two-week event, which opened last Friday with festivities in the host city of Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest. Sports events will also be held in four other cities in the same state, Jalisco.
Guadalajara, a colonial-era city known as the birthplace of mariachi and tequila, is not among the main hot spots for drug violence. But in the past two years, the number of killings has risen in the metropolitan region, with 4.4 million residents, as several drug trafficking organizations have battled one another in a messy struggle for supremacy in western Mexico, says an LA Times report.
Yet, said Guadalajara Mayor Aristoteles Sandoval, "Right now this is the safest city in Mexico and many other places in Latin America."
Mexico has hosted a number of other marquee events - including an international climate-change summit, film festivals and other athletic tournaments - during the last few years without a hitch, says the LA Times report.
For many athletes, the upcoming games are a key step in the run-up to next year's Olympics in London. Safety precautions for U.S. competitors in Mexico are no different than for other international contests, which customarily rely on close contact with local police, the report said.