‘Hard decisions’ for Gay Games 2023 organisers as registration opens for Hong Kong and Guadalajara

Published by Jon Holmes on

Participants encouraged to sign up now for Gay Games XI, which will be co-hosted in Latin America and Asia in November next year; only five sports – athletics, swimming, football, tennis and badminton – are set to feature in both cities, leaving some athletes with tough choices; Hong Kong says it is expecting 7,000 athletes and artists, and 25,000 spectators

By Jon Holmes

The rainbow march at the opening ceremony of Gay Games 9 in Cleveland in 2014 (image by Koji Kawano, Creative Commons)

Registration has opened for Gay Games XI which will be co-hosted next year by Hong Kong and Guadalajara – the first edition of the LGBTQ+-inclusive multisports event to be held in either Latin America or Asia.

The Games will take place from Friday 3 to Saturday 11 November, 2023.

There will be competitions in well over 30 disciplines across the two cities, but only five sports – athletics, swimming, football, tennis and badminton – are set to feature in both Hong Kong and Guadalajara.

That is sure to leave many would-be athletes with difficult choices to make, particularly those who may have wanted to enter more than one sport as well as those who hoped to travel and spend time with friends.

“We’ve had to make some hard decisions,” wrote the Federation of Gay Games‘ (FGG) Vice President of External Relations, Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, in a media release, adding a message to potential participants: “You may find that the sport you wanted to compete in has moved location.”

In soccer, both seven-a-side and 11-a-side tournaments are due to be held in both Hong Kong and Guadalajara, while the distance running events that will double up include 5k and 10k road races, and half and full marathons. Open water swimming will only be held in Hong Kong, according to information provided on the host cities’ websites.

The other sports on offer to athletes in the Asian city are fencing, field hockey, martial arts, rowing, rugby sevens, sailing (dinghy), squash, and table tennis, plus four new Gay Games sports – dodgeball, dragonboat racing, mahjong, and trail running.

Meanwhile, in its Mexican counterpart, the remaining sports listed are basketball, beach volleyball, cheerleading, dancesport, diving, golf, Greco-Roman wrestling, powerlifting, softball, ten-pin bowling, volleyball, water polo, and the traditional and charmingly silly swimming event, Pink Flamingo.

Several sports that were part of the Paris 2018 programme are set to miss out this time around. Those not listed separately for the 2023 Games are boxing, cycling (neither road nor mountain biking), figure skating, handball, ice hockey, judo, petanque, speed roller skating, synchronised swimming and triathlon.

The Paris Games involved over 10,000 participants from 91 countries, and pumped over 100m euros into the local economy.

The opening ceremony at the Paris Gay Games in 2018 (image by Daieuxetdailleurs, Creative Commons)

Despite the various complications of co-hosting – the decision to share duties between the two cities was announced back in February as a result of ongoing challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – excitement is building ahead of next November.

For its part, Hong Kong has reaffirmed quarantine-free and visa-free entry for athletes from 170 countries. The city expects to welcome 7,000 athletes and artists, and 25,000 spectators.

Joanie Evans

“The Gay Games represent our highest ideals of creating a society where diversity is celebrated, where every person has the freedom to live up to their fullest potential, where everyone is equal in sport regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation,” said FGG co-president Joanie Evans.

“I look forward to joining 30,000 passionate people in Hong Kong as we march together into history, hosting our first Games in Asia and Latin America.”

Lisa Lam, co-chair of Gay Games Hong Kong 2023, added: “With the abolition of the quarantine entering Hong Kong, we are telling the world that Hong Kong is ready to rise to the challenge of hosting this international, multi-sport, arts & culture event.

“From the rolling hills of Sai Kung to the blue waters of Deep Water Bay, we will show the world that our city’s unique natural attributes can deliver a sporting experience like no other, whether you are a marathon runner, open water swimmer, rugby or tennis player.

“For many participants, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable experience that gives them a sense of belonging and empowerment, making friends for life.”

Those who register before the end of 2022 to take part in Hong Kong next November will be able to take advantage of an early bird discount, bringing the fee down to $1,050 HKD (£120).

Gay Games Hong Kong 2023 is also offering funding support, including 1,000 fee waivers for young people below the age of 25, as well as help for migrant workers, domestic helpers and minorities, on a first-come-first-served basis funded by private donors. 

Alongside the sporting competitions, Hong Kong is promising spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies, plus entertainments, exhibitions and events including three nights of headlined gala concerts.

Meanwhile, in a message to those athletes who will travel to Mexico, Monica Sanchez from Gay Games Guadalajara said: “After challenging times that have marked and redefined us, it is time to meet again, to hug each other and with pride celebrate our freedom.

“Guadalajara will be a unique experience; the first time that we will meet again at the biggest diversity party after the global health emergency; and it will be the first time that we will do it in Latin America.

“You are part of this history, and we want to celebrate it with you. See you in Guadalajara, the most Mexican, progressive, and gayest city in Mexico. We are waiting for you with open arms in November 2023!”

For more information on how to register, see the official Federation of Gay Games website and follow the links for Hong Kong and Guadalajara.

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Jon Holmes

Digital Sports Editor