Hong Kong makes final shortlist to host 2022 ‘gay Olympics’
Successful bid could mean estimated HK$1 billion economic boost from giant international sport and cultural event
Hong Kong is to join Guadalajara in Mexico and Washington DC in the United States in contesting for the right to host the “gay Olympics” after making the final shortlist for the 2022 event.
Ahead of the announcement in November, a delegation from the Federation of Gay Games, the guardians of the quadrennial sports and cultural festival, will arrive in May to conduct a site visit to assess Hong Kong’s feasibility as a host city.
In the autumn, the bid team will head to Paris, hosts of the 2018 games, to make its final pitch in front of the federation’s delegates.
Organisers hope that bringing the games to Hong Kong will challenge the stigma and cultural barriers faced by LGBT groups across the region. Their case is strengthened by the fact that no Asian city has hosted the games since their inception in 1982.
“Hong Kong is the perfect city to represent Asia,” Dennis Philipse, co-chair of the Hong Kong bid team, said. “Asia is home to an estimated 221 million LGBT+ people, but also where there is an ongoing struggle to overcome homophobia and gain acceptance.”
The bid has received backing from the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Tourism Board and father of Lan Kwai Fong and entrepreneur Allan Zeman.
The city would receive a boost to the tune of HK$1 billion, due to the 15,000 athletes estimated to participate and the 40,000 visitors expected to attend.
The city’s pitch for the games features 36 events including local favourites trail running and dragon boat racing alongside traditional track and field events. Taking advantage of existing facilities, the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, Victoria Park swimming pool, and the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal are all listed as key venues.
The 2022 games would not require taxpayer funding, instead supported through corporate sponsorship, private donors and generated revenue.
Bid team co-chair Benita Chick said: “The Gay Games is much more diverse than an ‘Olympics’ per se as it is also a festival that includes arts and culture and a conference.”
“The mission is to further promote diversity and inclusion by welcoming participants regardless of their ability.”
First hosted in San Francisco in 1982, the Gay Games went on to become the largest global sport and cultural gathering open to all, regardless of ability, age, sexual orientation, race, gender, nationality, political or religious beliefs, ethnic origin or HIV status.