The selection of the host city for the 2006 Gay Games will not be made until March next year.

The 2006 event was originally to be hosted by Montr?, but an impasse in contract negotiations between the organising team and the Federation of Gay Games last month resulted in Montr? and the Federation going separate ways.

The Montr? team vowed to press ahead with plans to stage their own international gay sports festival in 2006, while the Federation has gone back to three cities which made original bids for the 2006 event -“ Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta -“ and asked them if they would like to make new bids.

Organising groups in those three cities have until the end of the year to decide whether they wish to make a bid, and until 1 February to submit it.

Federation vice-president Richard Hogan told Sydney Star Observer that the three cities have been asked to submit bids for a sport and cultural festival in 2006 (rather than 2007, as some have speculated) involving 20 core sports, eight additional sports and an initial target of 10,000 participants. The proposals must also include scope for opening and closing ceremonies, a choral festival, a band festival and a rainbow run, he said.

The winning city will be required to pay the Federation a reduced licence fee of $US400,000 for the right to stage the Games, although they will be required to pay an additional fee of $20 per participant if they attract more than 10,000 registrations.

Hogan said the Federation had not heard from the Montr? 2006 team regarding their plans to press ahead with staging the Gay Games in 2006, although the decision to do so had been made after receiving legal advice.

It is not yet known whether all three American cities will end up bidding for the event.

At the time of the Feder-ation’s annual meeting in Chic-ago last month, the Atlanta delegation announced that although they were interested in staging the 2006 games, they were not interested in going through another competitive bid process. (Atlanta came second to Montr? in the initial bid process.)

Atlanta bid team president Margie Archer said a new bidding process would put the winning city at a clear organisation disadvantage.

We cannot in good conscience ask sponsors and city partners to participate in a bid process that we disagree with and will put the winning city in a losing position as the 2006 games rapidly approach, Archer said.

But Hogan said the Atlanta delegation had since shown some interest in making a bid anyway.

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