Billed as “the largest sport and culture event in the world open to all,” the 11th iteration of the Gay Games has been awarded to Hong Kong—the first time that the Games will be held in Asia.
Hong Kong beat out other finalists Washington, D.C. and Guadalajara, Mexico for the honor.
A record 17 international cities expressed interest in hosting Gay Games 11, including a dozen others in the U.S.: Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Francisco, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Des Moines, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Salt Lake City, Utah.
The 2018 Gay Games are scheduled for Paris from August 4-12, 2018 (Paris2018.com), and will include 36 sports, 14 cultural events, an academic conference and as many as 15,000 participants from 70 countries.
Since 1982, the Federation of Gay Games’ (FGG) mission has been to promote equality. Its legacy changes social and political attitudes towards LGBT+ people through the core principles of “participation, inclusion and personal best.”
Gay Games was first conceived by Dr. Tom Waddell, an Olympic decathlete, and was inaugurated in San Francisco during 1982. Subsequent Gay Games were held in San Francisco (1986), Vancouver (1990), New York (1994), Amsterdam (1998), Sydney (2002), Chicago (2006), Cologne (2010) and the Cleveland/Akron area (2014).
One of the many reasons Cleveland was chosen was the opportunity to create change in a region of the country where LGBTQ issues were not as in the forefront as in others. The most recent gathering attracted approximately 10,000 athletes from more than 60 countries for 37 sporting and cultural events.
A study by Kent State University professors Dr. Shawn M. Rohlin and Dr. Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley found that the total economic impact to Northeast Ohio was $52.1 million. Event participants were asked about their spending in a post-event survey. Among the results were:
—75 percent of the 20,000-plus who participated or attended the Games lived outside the Cleveland and Akron metro area.
—Locals and non-locals spent $38.8 million in the main sectors of the economy, including hotels, restaurants, bars and gas stations.
—An additional $20.6 million was generated in local incomes, roughly the equivalent of 726 full-time jobs.
—64 percent of local participants said they would have traveled outside Northeast Ohio to participate in the Gay Games, taking their local spending of $8.4 million and “dropping” it into another region.
An opportunity to similarly move the needle in Hong Kong and across Asia may be a huge legacy of the Hong Kong 11 Gay Games.
Site inspections took place in three finalist cities during June and July 2017 by a team of FGG inspectors from Australia, Germany, Canada and the U.S. The team spent 3.5 days in each city, toured all venues and attended local supporter civic events.
Hong Kong’s bid chair, Dennis Philipse founded the city’s Bid Team in 2014. He linked the city’s bid success to Hong Kong’s strong commitment to diversity and its world-class status.
“This is a testament to Hong Kong’s spirit and passion for increased inclusion and diversity; bringing the Gay Games to Asia and Hong Kong as host proves the growth in openness in the city and across the region,” Philipse said after the final presentation. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous support from our team and partners, and of course the competing teams from Washington, D.C. and Guadalajara for their strong bids, encouraging us to work harder to win it for Asia.”
Sporting events can vary for each iteration of the Games, but some include: Basketball, bowling, boxing, dancesport, diving, fencing, figure skating, golf, martial arts, roller derby, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, triathlon and wrestling.