Hong Kong has hosted the first opening ceremony for a Gay Games since 2018, becoming the first Asian city to host the event since the beginning of the games in 1982, and only the second city in the Asia-Pacific region after Sydney in 2002.
Originally due to be held in November of last year, the even was postponed for a year due to the Corona pandemic, with Guadalajara, Mexico being named as a co-host city for the games in September last year.
Gay Games 11 was originally going to feature 22 different sports alongside an arts and culture festival. However some track and field events, field hockey and Rugby 7s were removed from the programme due to low registration numbers.
Some competitions, including Badminton, the full and half Marathons and Tennis, are being held in both host cities, while a majority of the sports will be restricted to just one host city or the other.
Veteran Hong Kong lawmaker Regina Ip spoke at the opening ceremony for the games, giving the event the official seal of approval despite some conservative lawmakers calling for the event to be banned.
Ip is the convenor of Hong Kong’s Executive Council, the city’s top decision-making body, and gave a 7-minute speech welcoming participants to the city.
“History is being created today,” Ip said, according to the South China Morning Post.
“We are proud to be the first Asian city to co-host the Gay Games.”
Ip also praised a recent ruling by Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeals that had found that authorities must establish a legal framework for recognising same-sex unions in the city.
“These court judgments, together with the holding of the Gay Games, fully demonstrate our city’s unfailing commitment to protect minority rights and maintain Hong Kong as a vibrant, tolerant and pluralistic society,” Ip said.
The Gay Games 11 mascot is Sunny the Lion who organisers say can “create miracles from the impossible” and is inspired by Hong Kong’s Lion Rock mountain and styled after the appearance of traditional Chinese lion dancers.
Hong Kong, Guadalajara, Tel Aviv and Cape Town were the only non-American cities to make bids to host the games, with Hong Kong and Guadalajara making the shortlist along with Washington DC.
Gay Games 11 runs from November 3 to 11 this year.
Gay Games 12 will be held in Valencia, Spain, in 2026.
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