In mid-September, organizers of the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, Germany, announced that more than 1,700 athletes and artists have registered to participate in the quadrennial sports and cultural event next July and August 2010. Participants from more than 30 nations have already signed up to participate in the games, including many from Eastern European countries where many who are openly gay or lesbian are still persecuted.
Participation by the host country, Germany, leads all other nations with registrations from the United States and The Netherlands following close behind.
“Registrations have increased substantially in the last few months,” said Annette Wachter, chief executive officer of the games, in a statement to the press. “Summer LGBT sports programs in North America and Europe have helped drive registrations from the U.S.A., Canada, and Europe. The approach of the southern hemisphere’s summer has also increased registrations from Australia and South Africa. We are on target to have participation levels of 8,000 to 10,000 next July and August in Cologne.”
Athletes are set to compete in 34 sports and four cultural events being offered at the 2010 event. Two sports, golf and sailing, are nearing participant capacity, organizers said.
“Now is the time to register for the 2010 Gay Games,” urged Kurt Dahl and Emy Ritt, co-presidents of the Federation of Gay Games (FGG). “Early registration secures a participant’s spot in a sport or cultural event that may otherwise sell out and allows Cologne to better plan for next summer’s eighth Gay Games.”
Gay Games VIII runs from July 31 to August 7, 2010, and opens with an Opening Ceremony at RheinEnergie Stadium, the city’s football (soccer) stadium. Up to 48,000 people are expected at the Opening Ceremony according to Andrea Müller, head of the Gay Games Cologne Ceremony & Culture Task Force.
The Gay Games are a quadrennial sports and cultural festival founded in 1982 by Dr. Tom Waddell, an Olympic decathlete. Celebrated every four years, the Gay Games motto is “Participation, Inclusion and Personal Best.” Drawing up to 12,000 participants—more than the Olympic Games—previous Gay Games have been held in San Francisco (1982, 1986), Vancouver (1990), New York (1994), Amsterdam (1998), Sydney (2002), and Chicago (2006). – by Nancy Ford