Sebastián Yatra Ignites Opening Ceremony of Santiago 2023 Pan American Games

Athletes from 41 countries across the Americas gather in Chile's capital for a multi-sport event that runs until November 5.

The opening ceremony of the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games began energetically and emotionally on Friday, October 21, at the National Stadium in Chile’s capital. Colombian pop star Sebastián Yatra headlined the show, performing his hits to the delight of over 30,000 spectators. The multi-sport event runs through November 5, with athletes from 41 countries throughout the Americas competing.


  • The Santiago 2023 Pan American Games begin with a dynamic opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Santiago, Chile.
  • Colombian pop sensation Sebastián Yatra headlines the event, thrilling over 30,000 spectators.
  • Local Chilean bands like Los Jaivas, Los Bunkers, and a reunited Los Tres also feature prominently.
  • The ceremony includes tributes to Chilean Olympic heroes, with high jump pioneer Lucy López Cruz lighting the cauldron.
  • The Games will see athletes from 41 countries competing in 39 sports until November 5.

Local Talent Opens Show with Nods to Chilean History

The show commenced with eclectic Chilean band Los Jaivas, who brought the crowd to its feet with their iconic folk song “Todos Juntos” (All Together). Los Jaivas drummer Juanita Parra said the song has become a “second national anthem” in Chile. Parra comes from a famous artistic family and is the niece of the renowned Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

Next on stage was popular local rock group Los Bunkers, who got attendees singing and swaying along to beloved tracks like “Miño” and “Bailando Solo.” The band from Concepción was formed in 1999 and is known for its contemporary rock sound.

Los Tres reunited for a rare performance, their first together in 23 years. The band from Concepción came to prominence in the 1990s across Latin America and was Chile’s first group to record an MTV Unplugged album. They delighted fans with renditions of classics like “Déjate Caer” and “Un Amor Violento.”

List of some of the famous participants at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games opening ceremony:

Los JaivasIconic Chilean folk rock band who performed their hit “Todos Juntos.”
Los BunkersA popular Chilean rock band from Concepción played songs like “Miño.”
Los TresA famous Chilean rock band from the 1990s reunited for the ceremony.
Sebastián YatraColombian pop star who headlined the show with his romantic hits.
Ana TijouxChilean hip-hop artist who performed the Games’ anthem.
Lucy López Cruz93-year-old Chilean high jump pioneer lit the cauldron.
Nicolás MassúChilean tennis star, double gold medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Fernando GonzálezMost decorated Chilean Olympic athlete and tennis medalist.
Alfonso de IruarrizagaChilean sports shooter, silver medalist in the 1988 Olympics.

Olympic History Woven Throughout Ceremonies

The pageantry contained numerous tributes to Chilean Olympic heroes past and present. The Olympic flame entered the stadium through the notorious “hatch 8,” the gate that political prisoners passed through when the arena was used as a detention center during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Further reading:

Chilean high jump pioneer Lucy López Cruz, 93, had the honor of lighting the cauldron. López Cruz won silver in the high jump at the 1951 Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, becoming Chile’s first Pan Am medalist. Other Chilean Olympic medalists like shooter Alfonso de Iruarrizaga and tennis stars Nicolás Massú and Fernando González also bore the torch.

Massú and González both won gold medals in tennis at the 2004 Athens Olympics. De Iruarrizaga captured silver in a 25m rapid-fire pistol at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Upbeat Yatra Electrifies Crowd for Grand Finale

The show closed in lively fashion with an energetic concert from Colombian heartthrob Sebastián Yatra. The 28-year-old pop sensation had the crowd in a frenzy as he rolled through his catalog of romantic Latin pop hits like “Pareja del Año,” “Traicionera,” and “Tacones Rojos.”

Yatra connected with the audience, having them sing along and clap throughout the high-energy set. He dedicated “Tacones Rojos” (Red Heels) to the women in attendance, exclaiming, “I want to know Chile, who brought the red heels tonight!”

The interpretive dancing and pageantry beforehand exhibited Chile’s diverse landscapes and cultures. But Yatra’s concert brought a festive exclamation point to get the Games underway. Fireworks filled the sky above the National Stadium as Yatra’s music faded.

The Pan American Games run through November 5, with athletes competing across 39 sports. Chile last hosted the Pan Am Games in Santiago in 1987. The 2023 edition will be the biggest ever, with over 6,500 competitors. All eyes turn to the fields of play as the ceremonies give way to two weeks of Olympic-style competition.