The 1987 Pan American Games, officially known as the X Pan American Games, was a major international multi-sport event which was celebrated in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, from 7 August to 23 August 1987. Over 4,300 athletes from 38 countries in the Americas competed in 30 sports earning 1,015 medals. Events were held at 23 venues in and around Indianapolis. The official mascot for the games was Amigo, a green parrot.

Host city election and organization

Santiago, Chile, was originally named the host of the 10th Pan American Games, but it withdrew in 1983 due to the political and financial problems. Quito, Ecuador, was named to replace Santiago, but it also withdrew, in late 1984. Desperate, PASO held a new election. Indianapolis was planning to bid on the 1991 Games, but, at the request of the United States Olympic Committee, submitted a bid for 1987. Since many sports facilities were already in place, PASO announced on December 18, 1984, that Indianapolis would be the host.[1] Havana, Cuba, was also interested, but PASO appeased Fidel Castro by agreeing to give Havana the 1991 games provided that Cuba participated at Indianapolis.

The city of Indianapolis created an organizing committee called Pan American Ten/Indianapolis (PAX/I). It had eighteen operating divisions, 300 paid staff, and 37,000 volunteers.[1]


Opening ceremonies and speed roller skating were held in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Butler University's Hinkle Fieldhouse hosted volleyball.
After the Pan Am Games, the Indianapolis Tennis Center became the annual venue for the Indianapolis Tennis Championships.
Pan American Plaza in 1988. Closing ceremonies were held at the Hoosier Dome (background).

The 1987 Pan Am Games were held at 23 sites total. The athletes village, which provided lodging and dining for the athletes, was located at Fort Benjamin Harrison.[1]


The Opening ceremony was held on the main straightaway of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. About 80,000 spectators watched a performance produced by The Walt Disney Company with 6,500 performers in the largest outdoor live entertainment show held in the United States up to that point.[2] It was also the largest Opening Ceremony of the Pan Am games yet. Sandi Patty was a featured singer and the show even included hot air balloons and military fighter jets. Dignitaries included IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, Indianapolis Mayor William H. Hudnut III, Indiana Governor Robert D. Orr, and PASO President Mario Vazquez Raña. US Vice President George Bush officially opened the games.

Flag bearers in the Parade of Nations included the games' oldest athlete, 70-year-old yachtsman Durwood Knowles of the Bahamas, basketball star José Ortiz of Puerto Rico, and baseball pitcher Jim Abbott of the United States.[2]

The final leg of the torch relay had the flame passed from Oscar Robertson to Kristie Phillips to Wilma Rudolph who lit the cauldron.[2]

The closing ceremony took place in the Hoosier Dome. The headline act was Cuban American singer Gloria Estefan and her band Miami Sound Machine.[2]


The logo of the 1987 Pan Am Games consisted of five stylized Xs, the Roman numeral for ten. Designed by Michael Hayes of the JMH Corporation in Indianapolis, the seven colors represent the wildlife and flags of western hemisphere countries.[3] The mascot was Amigo, a green parrot, designed by Jerry Reynolds of Perennial Pictures in Indianapolis. He represents friendliness and festivity.[3] The official music of the X Pan American Games was Pan American Fanfare by Lalo Schifrin.


The rights for the 1987 games were won by CBS with a bid of $4,000,000, and Brent Musburger hosted. CBS aired 26 hours of coverage, all on weekend afternoons, including live coverage of the Opening Ceremony from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Additionally, CBS provided the world feed. The ratings were boosted by the participation of Cuban athletes on U.S. soil, providing a USA-Cuba showdown in many events.

Indianapolis Museum of Art exhibition

Coinciding with the Pan American Games was the Indianapolis Museum of Art exhibition Art of the Fantastic: Latin America, 1920–1987. The exhibition presented 125 works by artists from a variety of nations, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Puerto Rico, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.[4] Well-known artists such as Frida Kahlo and Roberto Matta were featured, as well as artists who had never exhibited outside their native country.[5] The show was the first large-scale presentation of 20th-century Latin American art in the U.S. in over 20 years and was the museum's first contemporary exhibition to travel.[4]

Participating nations

The United States' basketball team included a young David Robinson.

38 nations participated in the tenth Pan American Games. Four countries competed for the first time in 1987: Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and Grenada.[2]

Medal count

The United States received the most medals. Pictured here is their trap shooting team receiving gold.
1 Host nation

To sort this table by nation, total medal count, or any other column, click on the icon next to the column title.

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  United States (USA) 1 a 169/168 120/118 81/83 370/369
2  Cuba (CUB) 75 52 48 175
3  Canada (CAN) a 30 56/57 75 161/162
4  Brazil (BRA) 14 14 33 61
5  Argentina (ARG) 12 14 22 48

^ The medal counts for the United States and Canada are disputed.


American Michael Bentt and Cuban Félix Savón in a boxing match
  • Thirty sports were contested at the tenth Pan American Games for a total of 321 events. Five were contested for the first time in 1987, including handball.


The Pan Am Games brought about $175 million (1988 USD, $355.1 million 2016 USD) to Indianapolis's economy.[6][7] Hosting the Games cost about $30 million.[1] Indianapolis was the first Pan American Games host city to break even financially.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bodenhamer 1074
  2. ^ a b c d e The Games of August: Official Commemorative Book. Indianapolis: Showmasters. 1987. ISBN 978-0-9619676-0-4. 
  3. ^ a b Tenth Pan Am Games Pin Collector Set information sheet. International Sports Corp. 1987
  4. ^ a b Berry, S.L. (2008). Every Way Possible: 125 Years of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Indianapolis Museum of Art. 
  5. ^ Alexander, Nancy (June 1987). "The Art of the Fantastic: The works of three generations of artists explore the Latin American experience in a dazzling new exhibit at the IMA". Indianapolis Magazine. 
  6. ^ Price, Nelson (2004). Indianapolis Then & Now. San Diego, California: Thunder Bay Press. p. 77. ISBN 1-59223-208-6. 
  7. ^ "Inflation Calculator". US Inflation Calculator. US Inflation Calculator. 
  8. ^ Bodenhamer 1495

Bodenhamer, David J. (1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-31222-8. Retrieved 2008-12-29.