efe-epaRio de Janeiro

A total of 487 Brazilian athletes will compete in 49 disciplines at the upcoming Pan American Games in Lima, where the South American giant will look to secure a record number of qualifying spots for next summer's Tokyo Olympics.

Unlike in previous editions of the Pan Am Games, the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) has not set a medal target for Lima 2019 because the main aim is to obtain Olympic places.

"The COB's main goal is to secure Tokyo 2020 spots for the largest number of athletes and disciplines. In total, 22 disciplines will guarantee direct berths to the Olympic Games or will offer world ranking points that go toward qualification for Tokyo," a spokesman for that organization told EFE.

Pan Am Games organizers decided to offer more Olympic qualifying spots in a bid to raise the quality of the competitors and avoid a situation in which countries do not send their top athletes.

"The Pan American Games have grown in terms of the Olympic qualifying spots they offer, and that's why we've adopted that as a new target," COB sports director Jorge Bichara said.

The change in strategy also follows Brazil's failure to achieve the medal target set by the COB for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. While the committee had set a goal of finishing in the top 10 in the medal table, the country only managed a 13th-place finish.

Although the Brazilian delegation that will participate in the Pan American Games will be smaller than in previous editions, the COB believes the quality is higher because the goal is not to make its youngest athletes more battle-hardened but to secure qualifying spots.

Brazil sent 590 competitors to the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and a record 660 athletes to the 2011 edition of that event in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Many Brazilian athletes will be arriving in Lima several days prior to the start of the event, which will run from July 26 to Aug. 11, so they can get acclimated to the conditions.

A first group made up of the men's and women's artistic gymnastics teams will arrive in the Peruvian capital on Saturday, while 120 other members of the delegation - including Brazil's female handball team and rugby sevens squad - will be in Lima on Sunday.

Olympic qualifying spots are on offer in 13 different sports in Lima: archery, artistic swimming, diving, equestrian, field hockey, karate, modern pentathlon, sailing, shooting, surfing, team handball, tennis and water polo, according to the United States Olympic Committee's Web site.

That site says that athletes participating in athletics, badminton, swimming and weight lifting at the Pan Am Games also will be able to work toward possible qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Brazil, which has participated in all 17 editions of the Pan American Games dating back to the 1951 event in Buenos Aires, currently stands in fourth place (behind the US, Cuba and Canada) on the all-time medal table with 1,207: 328 golds, 359 silvers and 520 bronzes. EFE-EPA

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