Hong Kong’s Gay Games scheduled for November 2022 will be postponed for a year, with the organizer citing stringent travel restrictions amid the pandemic.
Gay Games is a 9-day international diversity festival with sports, arts and culture events organised by the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, +) community every 4 years.
The 2022 games were expected to draw 12,000 participants, 75,000 spectators and 3,000 volunteers from 100 countries for 36 sporting events, including Dragon Boat Racing, Dodgeball and eSports.
Dennis Philipse, co-chair of Gay Games Hong Kong, said countries impose different travel restrictions due to Covid-19 variants and many contestants cannot come to the city.
Many parts of the world, including across Asia, were still struggling to contain the coronavirus and faced uneven access to vaccines, Philipse added.
“We felt that delaying the Games until November 2023 will enhance the likelihood of delivering on our promise to have the Hong Kong Games serve as a beacon of hope for the wider community across the region,” he said.
As the Gay Games is recognized by The Federation of Gay Games, the organizing committee said they will have a discussion with the federation before coming up with the exact date for the postponed Games in 2023.
Postponing the games will also allow member organizations of the federation to set up suitable training timetable for the Games, and help the organizing committee find private venues for events, according to Philipse.
Earlier, Hong Kong lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu slammed the Games, saying they were “disgraceful” and any revenue generated would be “dirty money”.
Without explicitly naming Ho, he said that a small number of lawmakers intended to politicize the Games and those remarks ignored the focus of the Games – unity in diversity.
Philipse thanked for the support of the mass public and businesses, as well as lawmakers and the Chief Executive, saying the organizing team will host the best Gay Games in next year.
Another lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee on the other hand supported the postponement. She said the importance of the Gay Games, which originally expected around 12,000 contestants and 75,000 audiences, cannot be underestimated.
The Games can generate revenue of up to HK$1 billion and revive the tourism and aviation sector that has been impacted by the pandemic in the past two years.