Johannesburg to bid for Gay Games 2010

It was revealed on Thursday that Johannesburg is bidding to host the Gay Games in 2010. The last Gay Games, in Sydney in 2002, attracted 12 000 athletes 30 000 accompanying visitors, making it one of the world's largest sporting and cultural festivals.

Early sponsors of the effort include The Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTC), Southern Sun Hotels, Lufthansa, The City of Johannesburg and the Lesbian and Gay and Lesbian Equality Project.

The bid process is being spearheaded by the Johannesburg Tourism Company. The JTC will provide its experience and expertise, factors that are imperative for a bid presentation to an international organisation, in this case the Federation of Gay Games.

"The Federation will be looking at a wide range of criteria, including stadia and other venues, city and national infrastructure - especially transport, security, hospitality facilities such as hotels and restaurants, leisure, entertainment and community support. We provide world class tourism standards as well as uniquely South African pre- and post-Games attractions. Our logistical capacity and organisational and administrative competence are bringing international attention. We think we have a great chance on this one," said Deon Viljoen, Chief Executive Officer of the JTC.

If the bid is successful, the economic impact could be as much as R500-million.

Core sports are included in the Gay Games. In addition to track and field events and road races, there will be cycling, aquatics, golf, tennis, soccer, wrestling, martial arts, figure skating and a dozen other sports.

The host organisation is allowed to add eight sports and if Johannesburg wins the bid these will probably include rugby, cricket, bowls and pansula dancing.

Participation is not limited in any way. Athletes do not have to be gay to compete, or even internationally ranked. The Games' philosophy focuses on inclusion so even first-time competitors get an opportunity to compete.

Age isn't a limiting factor either with competitors divided into age categories so even seniors can become medal winners.

A major cultural festival will be held alongside the Games featuring the performing arts, visual arts and the humanities. - Sapa


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