The CBC's ties with the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games have gotten closer.
On Monday, it was announced Teddy Katz — a longtime national news radio reporter for the CBC who specialized in sports — would be taking a three-year leave from his post to join the 2015 Pan American Games as director, media relations and chief spokesperson, effective as of Oct. 22.
It's a role Katz said he is looking forward to for various reasons, and thinks he's well-suited for.
"The Pan Am Games in Toronto is a major undertaking," said Katz, "And it requires a lot of work to educate people in all the different communities as to why this is such an important event, not just a sports event. And the stars sort of aligned for me, bringing together all my different passions from the amateur sport community to my connections with the Hispanic community.
"I speak fluent Spanish and I truly believe this is an event that can give a voice or perhaps even an identity to some of these communities that are relatively new in Canada, and who haven’t yet found their voice."
Katz, whose wife is from Argentina, brings vast experience covering Olympic Games and Pan Am Games to his new position and has won several sports journalism awards over the years. The veteran has reported on three Pan Am Games and 10 different Olympics dating back to 1992 in Barcelona.
He also said the allure and opportunity to cultivate relationships with communities (in the Greater Toronto Area and in the Americas) and their various cultures was just too strong to pass up.
"You can have a lot more impact at the grassroots level, and that’s something I’m hoping I can help ensure will happen over the next three years," he said. "Not only will [the Games] be great for the amateur athletes who haven’t had a lot of facilities to train in in this area, in this region, but it will also be open to a lot of communities where they or their kids can use on a daily basis."
Katz also believes he's got an advantage in having worked for the CBC — the host and Canadian broadcast rights holder for the Games — and said workplace relationships he's fostered over the years will help make his transition a lot smoother.
"One of the things I found attractive is I can still build off some of those connections and relationships," he said, "And CBC is really hoping to bring these Pan Am Games in particular to a new level, to show these Games are important. And I think they want to raise the profile of these games, not only to the Toronto region but across the country and I’m sure we’re going to try and find ways and strategies to do that so that people know who the athletes are before the games and can get behind the athletes."
The Pan/Parapan American Games are considered a proving ground of sorts for Summer Olympic hopefuls, offering viewers the chance to see athletes who will potentially compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
The 2011 Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, featured 15 sports with either direct or indirect qualifying implications for the London Olympics.
The CBC/Radio-Canada deal includes English and French-language television, online, mobile and non-commercial radio rights for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, which run from July 10-26, and the Parapan Am Games, which go from Aug. 7-14.
Last month, CBC/Radio-Canada was awarded the Canadian media rights for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. That deal is expected to be cost-neutral for the public broadcaster.