In 1932, the South American delegation of the International Olympic Committee proposed the formation of an organization to promote amateur sports in the Americas. This idea led to the first Pan American Sports Congress, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1940. The 16 countries represented at the meeting formed the Pan American Sports Committee and selected Buenos Aires to host the first Pan American Games in 1942. However, World War II forced postponement and, at the 1948 Olympic Games in London, a second congress was held that renewed the commitment to organize the Pan American Games.

On Feb. 25, 1951, as originally envisioned, the first Pan American Games was hosted by Buenos Aires with 2,513 athletes from 21 countries. The organization was renamed the Pan American Sports Organization in 1955 and is currently made up of 41 nations from Central America, North America, South America and the Caribbean. The PASO headquarters are in Mexico City.