Gay Games organisers have quashed an international controversy surrounding opening ceremony plans that would have seen Games participants excluded from Aussie Stadium until the final stages of the celebration.

Sydney 2002 last week announced that Games participants would march into Aussie Stadium at the beginning of the ceremony, before taking designated seats within the stadium to watch the rest of the celebrations.

Controversy over the issue erupted two weeks ago, with rumours circulating via email that European and American participants were planning a protest and potential boycott of the Games. Information had been leaked that participants would be held in the SCG to watch a televised version of the ceremony, before marching into the stadium in the final moments of the celebration.

However, in a group email that went out to Games participants last Wednesday, the FGG executive committee claimed that concerns regarding participants’ marching order in the ceremony were misplaced, inaccurate and premature.

Sydney 2002 has, in just the last three weeks or so, finalised its running order for the opening ceremony, the group email read.

Games director of ceremonies Ignatius Jones also denied that participants’ role in the opening ceremony had been decided before the controversy erupted.

It [bringing the participants in first] was always something we were going to try to do and in the end it was just working out how to do it, Jones told the Star on Tuesday. It was never a problem to begin with and all it’s done is tie up our emails for three days. The biggest concern we had was not when the athletes were coming in, but how.

To the question of whether participants would have to watch the ceremony from the SCG, Jones replied, Absolutely not.

Jones confirmed that participants would walk into Aussie Stadium from the SCG after the Prelude segment as part of the second segment called Parade Of Heroes.

The whole thing opens with this enormous theatrical effect, which the athletes create by doing nothing else but walking in, he said.

Jones also confirmed that preparations for the ceremony, to consist of nine separate themed segments including Persecution And Perseverance, Remembrance and Acceptance, Love And Pride, were progressing well.

Jones revealed fresh details on the opening ceremony yesterday, including news that the 34,000 crowd capacity spectacular would include the use of eight high-resolution PIGI super projectors to contribute dramatic visual effects to the ceremony.

A tribute to Australia’s first gay venue, The Purple Onion, would feature early in the night and include a cast of legendary drag stars from the original venue.

Jones also revealed that an eight-foot volcano would rise from the centre of the stadium towards the end of the ceremony as part of a massive fireworks display.

I’m very lucky in that I’ve got an extraordinarily talented and dedicated team working with me. It’s coming along really well, it’s a big cast and the volunteers have been really keen and enthusiastic, Jones said.

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