Gay Games 2018: Hongkongers head to Paris hoping tournament will galvanise city to back LGBT community when it comes East
The Gay Games is hosted in Hong Kong next, and the city’s athletes are heading to Europe hoping it will create openness when it comes East
The Gay Games starts on August 4 in Paris, and as troops of Hongkongers head to Europe to compete, they cannot help but look ahead to 2022 when Hong Kong hosts the tournament.
“Hopefully it will galvanise the whole community, the public and the government,” said Tim Coldman, who is competing in Paris at the 5 kilometre, 10km and half-marathon.
“Sport is a great equaliser,” he said. “It breaks down barriers. So we want a lot of support for it.”
Fellow runner Solomon Luk will be racing in the same events as Coldman in France. He was also part of the bidding team that won the Games for Hong Kong.
“It is about openness,” he said. “Openness for Asia, not just Hong Kong. It is now for the energy it creates to shine a light on Asia. It’s time for more liberal values, shining a light on two thirds of the world’s population [that live in Asia].”
Luk said that the local LGBT community will see an improvement in culture following the games, because it will make it easier for athletes to come out.
“We will see more gay sports clubs appear,” he said. “I only knew of one badminton club and one football club, now there are more. Sport can bring a subtle but lasting change.”
Donald Tsim will be competing in badminton at the Paris Games.
“It  will show that we are just the same as everyone else,” he said. “People might have these preconceptions that we are creatures and don’t talk to anyone else, but we are not.”
But the imminent games in France is more pressing on each of their minds.
Coldman said he usually just runs for fitness and only decided to compete in Paris in the wake of Hong Kong winning the 2022 bid.
“When we won, I thought: what can I do to support them?” he said. “This is my first Gay Games and I’m really excited to find out what it will be like.”
Luk has a competitive background in orienteering – a race with no set routes, where competitors have to make it to a location using their map reading skills – so the long distance running is going to be a bit different in Paris.
“In distance running, you have a lot more room to think,” he said. “You will consider your route and your tactics. But everyone has a different style.”
Tsim has experienced the Gay Games before when he took part in Amsterdam in 1998.
“The city was very accepting. They had just legalised gay marriage so everyone was happy and holding hands or kissing,” he said. “In 1998, I was trying to win, but this time I will just try and enjoy it.”