Hong Kong Wins Bid to Host 2022 Gay Games!

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The Pink Dot Celebration is held each year in late October at the West Kowloon Nursery Park with the 108-story International Commerce Centre in the distance. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.


The 11th Gay Games will be held in Hong Kong in November 2022 following a hotly contested bid that started with 17 cities expressing interest in hosting the event. This will be the first time the Games have ever been held in Asia.

Cathay Pacific Airways, the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Hong Kong Tourism Board, and influential businessman Allan Zeman were among the more than 120 companies, bodies, and Individuals supporting the bid.

When asked to comment, Alex Lo – a respected columnist at the South China Morning Post – says it is "great news" that will "show the city's progressive side".

"After all the bad publicity about its politics and protests. it will be a boost to tourism with the so-called pink dollar," Alex says.

But not all readers of the newspaper share Alex's enthusiasm. More than 70% of the English language daily's readers responding to an on line poll say they will not attend the Gay Games in Hong Kong.

Boost to Local Economy?

An estimated 15,000 athletes and 40,000 spectators are expected to travel to Hong Kong to take part in or watch the games, which could inject as much as HK$1 billion (US$128,530,000) into the local economy.

New events to be introduced in Hong Kong will include dragon boat racing, trail running, and a tower run at the International Commerce Centre (ICC), a 108 story building inear the waterfront n West Kowloon.

And what about windsurfing? Hong Kong’s sole Olympics gold medal was won by Lee Lai-shan in windsurfing at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The event has since been dropped from the Summer Olympics. Should it be included in the Gay Games in Hong Kong in 2022?

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Hong Kong's dramatic skyline can provide the perfect backdrop for some jaw-dropping photo opps as these photos taken at the Pink Dot Celebration demonstrate. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Fully 36 events are planned. They will be held at the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, the Victoria Park Swimming Pool, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, and other venues.

Interestingly, Hong Kong Stadium has not been mentioned.  Wouldn’t it be the logical location for the opening ceremony?

Gay Games X

The announcement was made at a gala event at the Hotel de Ville in Paris, France, which will host Gay Games X next year.

Of the 17 cities that had originally expressed interest in hosting the event, six cities dropped out in the first round: Anaheim, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Des Moines, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and San Antonio, Texas – all in the United States.

Of the nine remaining cities, Cape Town, South Africa, and Tel Aviv, Israel, decided to postpone their bids until the 12th Gay Games in 2026.

Long-listed candidates included five American cities: Austin, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; and San Francisco, California, which has already hosted the games twice.

Hong Kong was short-listed along with Guadalajara, Mexico, and Washington, DC.

Gay Games 101

The Gay Games is a worldwide sporting and cultural event that promotes sexual diversity, featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) athletes and artists.

The first Gay Games were held in San Francisco in 1982 on 28 August. They were originally going to be called the Gay Olympics, but a lawsuit instituted by the International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee put paid to that idea.

As a result, the name had to be changed to Gay Games at the last minute.

The second Gay Games were also held in San Francisco four years later. Then it was announced that a decision had been reached to follow a similar format to the Olympics, moving from city to city every four years.

Canada was the first country outside the United States to host the Gay Games. The 1990 games were held in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Stonewall Tribute

The fourth Gay Games were held in New York City to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which are thought of as the launchpad of the LGBT movement.

With 10,864 competitors, the number of athletes competing  in Gay Games IV was greater than those taking part in the Barcelona Olympics, two years earlier (9,356) , or the Atlanta Olympics, two years later (10,318).

Amsterdam, Netherlands; Sydney, Australia; Chicago, Illinois; Cologne, Germany; and Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, hosted subsequent Games Games. Gay Games X will be held in Paris, France, in 2018.

Gay Friendly

What is interesting is that most of these cities are considered to be “gay friendly”, which would hardly apply to Hong Kong, where gay bars and bookstores are few and far between.

The Pearl of the Orient doesn't have a so-called "Gay Ghetto". You never see the Rainbow Flag flying outside of restaurants or other businesses.

So why not Taipei, Taiwan, which is generally thought of as the most "gay friendly" city in Asia? Taiwan did, after all, legalize gay marriage earlier this year – the first spot in Asia to do so. Apparently, the city didn’t put in a bid.

The structure of the Gay Games is similar to the Olympic Games, including the Gay Games flame, which is lit at the opening ceremony.

But there are key differences, as well. For example, there are no qualifying standards. Anyone wanting to participate in the games can do so regardless of sexual orientation.

Statement of Purpose – The Federation of Gay Games, Inc.

The “Federation”) shall be to foster and augment the self-respect of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and all sexually-fluid or gender-variant individuals (LGBT+) throughout the world and to promote respect and understanding from others, primarily by organising and administering the international quadrennial sport and cultural event known as the “Gay Games.

Hong Kong’s Bid

Hong Kong is truly an iconic and world-class city. From the instantly recognisable urban landscape, to the harbour and mountains, unrivalled transport infrastructure, wide range of sport facilities, entertainment venues and huge accommodation capacity Hong Kong can cater for every requirement of the Gay Games’ events.

The unquenchable drive and spirit of our city will provide a unique environment for the Games.

“Participation, inclusion and personal best” are the core values of the Federation of Gay Games. We believe those values chime with the spirit of Hong Kong.

We want to bring the Games to our city to showcase LGBT sporting and cultural organisations especially in Asia. The Hong Kong Bid is against 8 other cities in the world but we are the first and only Asian city that has ever bid.

This effort in itself is a milestone for our LGBT community here. Our bid proposal includes 36 sports including Dragon Boating, Trail Running and Tower Run ICC.

We expect up to 15,000 participants and 25,000 spectators who will bring up to Hong Kong Dollars 1 billion to the local economy if we can host the Games in Hong Kong in 2022.

Perfect Timing

Hong Kong has five years to get organized, and  one thing is for sure: the timing of holding the Gay Games here couldn't be better.

Summers in Hong Kong are long, hot, and unbearably humid. Summer rainfall is also common, and typhoons could force the cancellation of events.

So hosting an Olympics here between May and October would be ill-advised. 

By November, however, the temps tend to be mild, the humidity levels moderate to comfortable levels, and rainfall is less likely.

The average high in November is 19 degrees Celsius, or 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  The average number of rainy days is just six, making it the second driest month of the year.

Victory Celebration

  • A victory celebration is planned for Saturday 4 November at Ce La Vi, 25th Floor, California Tower, 36-30 D’Aguilar Street, in Lan Kwai Fong on Hong Kong Island. It will start at 5 pm.

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