Sporting events are a travel destination in themselves. Cities fight for the right to host the Olympic Games, soccer world championships, World Masters Games, World Cup Rugby, and World Championship Athletics to name but a few.

Alongside the floating events are those that have fixed homes: golf tournaments, the Hawaii Iron Man, the Melbourne Marathon, Wimbledon and the Tennis Circuit, the Formula 1 Grand Prix events, the AFL Grand Final and the Melbourne Cup.

The attraction of events such as the Olympics, the World Masters Games and the Gay Games is very simple: elite sport is good publicity and attracts tourists. Many athletes, families and friends participating in Masters competition ensures a large influx of visitors.

The Gay Games have grown over the past 25 years from an event attracting about 1,300 people, to the anticipated 10,000-plus in Cologne in 2010. Copenhagen will host the 2009 Outgames with projections of more than 8,000 participants.

More and more people are involved in adult sport. A Dutch traveller informed me that he would love to play soccer in such an event in Cologne, if he could get his wife and kids there during that time. It is sad that Australia is still so far behind European sensibility and acceptance. The fact that it was a Gay Games we were talking about did not deter him or even enter his thinking as we discussed the event.

History has and will continue to be made at local and international sporting events. It is only a question of whether you have the balls to be involved and look outside your own backyard cricket game at the amazing opportunities for participation existing in our community. No, I am not addressing any section of the community with that statement. It is a wonderfully Australian way to highlight the difficulty many have in getting into events.

Pre-registration allows people intending to participate in Copenhagen and Cologne the opportunity to reserve places now. There is a strong feeling in the European gay and lesbian community that many events in Cologne will be filled within weeks of registration opening, as many from the heterosexual community join the ranks for quality competition and an organised multi-sports event. Is it really so hard to make a commitment one year out from Copenhagen or less than two years from Cologne? We save for holidays, weddings, superannuation and funerals. An early commitment provides fundraising, saving and the first chance at cheap accommodation.

Training for the events is easy. Simply join one of Team Sydney’s member club teams. You are always welcome -“ just visit www.teamsydney.org.au.

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