It takes a team to ensure the Pan Am Games Torch is delivered proudly and safely at the opening ceremony at the Rogers Centre July 10.
A team of four Toronto Police officers is running, biking and providing security for the Pan Am Torch Relay over its 41-day journey through the province.
The Pan Am flame represents the history and spirit of the Games; it is a symbol that unites the 41 Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) member nations. It was lit in May at the last host of the Games Teotihuacan, Mexico. beginning its journey that ends in lighting the cauldron at opening ceremony, signifying the start of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.
Holding a baby lion was something Sergeant Jon Ling didn’t expect to do when he signed on to be a Toronto Police officer 28 years ago.
Ling is among four Service members assigned to the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) responsible for escorting the Pan Parapan Games Torch across the province.
On June 7, he was at the Bowmanville Zoo where the owner Michael Hackenberger carried the flame accompanied by 30 zoo animals.
“This is the most interesting detail I have had in all my years with the Service,” said Ling. “The other thing that stands out for me so far is the amount of interesting people I have met along the way and the many places I have visited in Ontario that I would normally not have had the opportunity to go to if it was not for this assignment.”
The other Toronto Police officers on the assignment are Constables Amanda Belanger, of 31 division, Jeff Gough, of 13 division, and Jason Rennie, of 12 division.
Run by the Ontario Provincial Police, the ISU also comprises eight OPP officers and one Halton Regional Police member.
With 7,666 athletes competing in 51 sports, the 2015 Games will be the largest international sporting event ever held in Canada and will be seen by hundreds of millions of people across the Americas and the Caribbean.
Torch Relay by the numbers:
- 41 days
- 3,000 torchbearers
- 5,000+ kilometres on the road
- 15,000+ kilometres in the air
- 130 communities
- 60+ alternative modes of transportation