With summer just around the corner, the attention of the world’s sports fans is currently centred on London, where the 2012 Olympic Games are due to start a few months from now. Preparations are well under way, and it’s looking set to be a great success—or an incredibly boring couple of weeks weeks if you happen to live near the games and don’t like sport! Indeed, plenty of Londoners are thinking of getting away from it all and coming to spend the duration of the Olympic games in Paris, and we’ll be more than happy to host some as many of the exiles as we can!
The Olympics might be the most well-known event in the mainstream sporting calendar, but over the years the Gay Games—and since 2001, rival event the Out Games (more on that later)—have grown in popularity amongst the gay community. As well as being a popular opportunity for gay and lesbian athletes to engage in sporting activities somewhere they feel safe and comfortable, they are also a welcome opportunity for socialising, with plenty of networking and partying after the sport is over.
After months of rumours, Paris has just announced plans to bid to host the gay games in 2018. Better still, the city is hoping that the Out Games, which broke off from the original Gay Games acrimoniously back in 2001 and which will next be held in 2017, will have patched things up by then. The aim is to re-unite the two events and create a single gay-friendly worldwide sporting event on a fixed four year calendar, starting from scratch in Paris in 2018.
Paris may well have lost out on its Olympics bid back in 2007, but the city had put in a lot of preparation and the sporting infrastructure is very much in place. The city is used to hosting large scale events, and with everything from the French Open to European athletics making a regular visit, facilities including tennis courts, several full-sized swimming pools and plenty more besides.
That doesn’t, however, mean it won’t take a lot of work. The Gay Games are incredibly popular, attracting as many as 12 000 athletes, but they don’t enjoy anywhere near as much financial support as other sporting events. For many aspects, they rely on volunteers, and that’s why the local association, the Fédération sportive gay et lebsien, has already started work.
It might seem like a long way off for planning a trip to Paris, but it might just be worth pencilling a few weeks in summer 2018 into your diary! If the French capital is successful, it will be only the second time that the event has been held in Europe after 2006’s event in Cologne, Germany; the 2014 Gay Games will be shared between Cleveland and Akron in the US Midwest.