August 25, 2017 at 10:17 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Decision on 2022 Gay Games set for October
Muriel Bowser, gay news, Washington Blade, 2022 Gay Games

Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke at a bid rally for the Gay Games in June. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The competition between D.C., Hong Kong, and Guadalajara, Mexico to be selected as the host city for the 2022 Gay Games is entering the final stretch, with observers familiar with the quadrennial international LGBT sports event saying each of the cities submitted good bids.

Les Johnson, vice president for external affairs for the Federation of Gay Games, which will select the host city, said the federation’s Site Selection Committee was in the process of completing a 100-page or longer report on each of the three cities that FGG officials will review in September.

The Site Selection Committee visited the three cities in June when D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and dozens of supporters of the D.C. bid, including officials of the city’s convention and visitors bureaus, pledged their support for the D.C. bid.

Johnson noted that representatives of the three cities will be given an opportunity to make a final in-person presentation on why their city should be selected to FGG leaders on Oct. 28 in Paris, where the FGG’s annual meeting will take place.

Two days later, on Oct. 30, the FGG is scheduled to announce the winning city during a gala reception that, among other things, will promote the 2018 Gay Games set to take place in Paris.

“We are confident that if chosen, Washington, D.C. will host a fantastic event that will bring in 12,000 to 15,000 athletes here to compete under the banner of ‘Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best,’ the motto of the Federation of Gay Games,” said Brent Minor, who serves as chair of Gay Games D.C. 2022, the official name for the District’s bid committee.

D.C., Hong Kong, and Guadalajara each has a long record of hosting large events like conventions and sporting competitions. The bids submitted by the three cities, which are hundreds of pages long, each assert that they have the infrastructure and community support to host dozens of individual sporting events ranging from soccer and swimming to tennis and rowing.

Observers say that if the FGG decision makers view the three cities as being equally qualified from a technical and infrastructure standpoint they might look toward other factors that could favor Hong Kong and Guadalajara. If selected, for example, Hong Kong would mark the first time the Gay Games would be held in Asia. Similarly, Guadalajara would be the first city in Latin America to host the Games.

Minor acknowledges holding the Gay Games in Asia and Latin America would be an historic first. But he said D.C.’s bid calls for significantly increasing the diversity of participants in the Gay Games that would match if not exceed the diversity of holding the Games in Asia or Latin America.

“Ours is more than just geography,” he said. “We are putting forth an initiative to attract more women, more African Americans, deaf and hard of hearing, millennials, and transgender people. We have outlined specific initiatives to engage these populations that have been underrepresented in the Games,” said Minor.

“So that is something where we are very strong because we’re really talking about engaging underrepresented populations, whether that’s bringing more people from Asia or bringing more people from Latin America or bringing more African Americans or more women,” he said.

“I think we have a more thorough outreach plan to reach these populations that have long been priorities for the Federation of Gay Games,” he said.

Johnson, meanwhile, said he is certain that the FGG and each of the three cities in contention to host the 2022 Gay Games has safeguards in place to prevent a financial collapse that prevented another quadrennial LGBT sporting competition – the Out Games – from taking place as scheduled earlier this year in Miami.

To the shock and dismay of hundreds of athletes and spectators who descended on Miami to attend or participate in the Out Games, officials with that event announced virtually all of the sporting venues had to be cancelled. Officials in Miami, which financed part of the scheduled events, announced they were conducting an investigation to determine how such a financial meltdown could have happened.

“The thing about D.C. is there will be insurance and safeguards in place and we’ll know way ahead of time” about any potential problems, Johnson said. “Everything will be tracked. I just don’t see that as a foreseeable thing,” he said.

The D.C. government has pledged to contribute $2 million to help finance the Games if D.C. is selected as the host city.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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