Hong Kong Gay Games 2022

An Olympics open to all – Hong Kong confirmed as official 2022 host but what exactly are the Gay Games?

Event has grown to be one of biggest sporting celebrations in the world since controversial beginning in 1982

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 January, 2018, 1:26pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 January, 2018, 5:12pm

The Gay Games 2022 will officially be held in Hong Kong after the Federation of Gay Games signed a deal with the local organising committee and the ceremonial Gay Games flag will be passed to Hong Kong after the closing ceremony of the Paris Games on August 12.

Hong Kong was named the presumptive host back in October of 2017 but the agreement confirms them as the official host city.

After beating competing bids from 16 cities including finalists Washington DC and Guadalajara, Mexico, Hong Kong won the right to host, becoming the first Asian country to stage the festival of sport.

Billed as the “world’s largest sporting and cultural event open to all”, the Games have grown from humble beginnings to be bigger than the Olympics that inspired them, and recognised as an official competition by governing bodies such as Fina, swimming’s world governing body.

But what exactly is the city to expect when it ushers in the 40th anniversary Games in November 2022?

What are the Gay Games?

Organised by the Federation of Gay Games, the event is held every four years and this year the tenth Gay Games take place in Paris from August 4-12.

The French capital is anticipating over 15,000 participants from more than 70 countries and Paris 2018 will feature more than 30 sports and 14 concurrent cultural events over 10 days in the summer.

Has it always been so big?

No. Paris 2018 is a far cry from the early days of the event. Founded in 1982 in San Francisco as the Gay Olympic Games, it was the brainchild of Tom Waddell, a decathlete for the US team at 1968 Mexico Olympics.

Waddell wanted to create a multi-sports event open to all – regardless of ability or sexual orientation – and the inaugural competition was contested by more than 1,300 people across 17 events.

The Gay Games is Hong Kong’s moment to show the city’s inclusivity. Are we ready?

Why the Gay Games and not the Gay Olympic Games?

In the weeks leading up to the first Games, the US Olympic Committee sued Waddell and his co-organisers for using the Olympic name, despite not suing the many other “Olympics” that infringed on their name.

The 1982 Games went ahead regardless but after a four-year court battle officially changed the name to the Gay Games.


Are the Gay Games still open to all?

Yes. The Federation of Gay Games makes it clear it still sticks to Waddell’s original vision.

“The Gay Games is built upon the core principles of participation, inclusion, and personal best,” read the event’s principles.

“Based on these values, since 1982, the Gay Games have brought together people from all over the world, with diversity, respect, equality, solidarity, and sharing. The Gay Games is open to all, young or old, athlete or artist, experienced or novice, gay or straight.”

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Can I be involved?

Absolutely. Details of how to take part – as an athlete or volunteer – will be on the Hong Kong 2022 website as the event nears.

What sports are there now?

At the more traditional end of the spectrum there is track and field, alongside distance races and wrestling, on the programme. But at the other end there is roller derby, petanque and pink flamingo – a spectacular display from the aquatics athletes that acts as the closing event of the Games. There are plenty more team and individual sports from bowling to sevens rugby among the 36 in Paris.

The final sports for Hong Kong will be confirmed nearer the time. It’s not just sports, though. The event will also include cultural events and academic conferences.

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Is it true the Gay Games are bigger than the Olympics?

Yes, in the sense more people take part.

The 1994 Gay Games in New York City had more athletes involved than the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, a trend that continued at the next Gay Games in Amsterdam in 1998.

The New York Gay Games was also notable for the number of tourists attracted to the event.

The 1990 Gay Games in Vancouver was the first year where Masters world records were set.

China won its first Gay Games medal in 2014.

How does the Gay Games compare to other events on Hong Kong’s sporting calendar?

More than 120,000 people descended on Hong Kong Stadium and the city’s bars for the 2017 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, while 74,000 runners registered for the 2018 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon.

The 2022 Gay Games will be smaller than those events, but will attract as much – if not more – interest.