Jo’burg loses Gay Games bid

Johannesburg’s bid for the 2010 Gay Games was as solid as a rock, but despite all the bid committee’s efforts, the Games will be hosted by Cologne, Germany. Disappointed members of the Johannesburg bid commission were in Chicago for the announcement and listened to the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) decision on Sunday.

Kathleen Webster, co-president of the FGG, which organises the four-yearly Gay Games, said in the announcement: ”Cologne will be a great place for the athletes from around the world to compete in 2010 at Gay Games VIII.

”Each of the bid cities [Cologne, Paris and Johannesburg] brought various strengths, and all were committed to seeing the legacy of the Gay Games continue to open doors for people everywhere through sport.”

Johannesburg bid co-chairperson James Mathias said that ”while the Jo’burg bid committee was disappointed, we respected the decision of the FGG. Johannesburg has already benefited from the bid process in that stereotypes have been broken down, bridges have been built and the dignity of gays and lesbians in South Africa has been affirmed.

”The bid committee will now be dissolved and will concentrate on sending the largest possible South African contingent to the Gay Games in Chicago in July 2006.

”We had an extremely sound bid — technically, financially and from an outreach perspective. We did South Africa proud and we are definitely up there competing on a par with the world’s best.”

Paul Tilly, who is a member of the bid commission for Johannesburg, told the Mail & Guardian Online he is disappointed.

”I am not sure about the reasons for the federation not to choose Johannesburg,” he said.

In the official FGG announcement on Sunday, no specific reasons for its choice were given.

”We did brilliantly. It is not the first time that we have bid and lost for an event, and it will not be the last. We will be back again to bid until we bring the Gay Games to Jozi,” said councillor Christine Walters, representing the executive mayor and the City of Johannesburg.

The Gay Games, first held in San Francisco in 1982, has become one of the most sought-after international events by cities around the world because it signifies diversity and a creative spirit by welcoming tens of thousands of athletes, artists and their friends and families who also generate substantial economic benefit for the host city.

Johannesburg’s bid was lodged on March 15 this year and three delegates from the federation did a site inspection in August. The Johannesburg Gay Games bid committee presented its final bid on November 12 in Chicago.

The 2006 Gay Games will take place in Chicago from July 15 to 22.

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Elvira Van Noort
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