And you thought the Sydney 2002 Gay Games were big. The organisers of the 2006 Gay Games in Montr? are anticipating as many as 24,000 sporting and cultural event participants for their event, and up to 250,000 non- participating tourists.

Montr? is well placed to attract a large number of people in 2006, being a Northern Hemisphere, bilingual city one hour’s flight from New York City.

The 2006 Games are also likely to build on the success of Sydney 2002, said Montr? 2006 spokesperson Mark Tewksbury.

The medallists want to go back and defend their medals, which is a success on all accounts, because it means Sydney 2002 and the Federation have succeeded in putting on a really high quality sporting competition that people want to be part of again, Tewksbury said.

Organisers say that Montr? has the facilities to cater for 24,000 participants (which would make it almost double the size of the Sydney 2002 Gay Games), but it is understood that some members of the Federation of Gay Games are less optimistic.

We’re engaged in conversations right now with Montr? and we would like to talk about some of those things, said Federation co-president Kathleen Webster.

Montr? 2006 board member Jean-Fran?s Perrier said that government support for the event was already forthcoming.

We have an agreement with the federal government for $1m and the Quebec government for $1m, Perrier said. The City of Montr? is also providing venues and services up to a value of $1m as well. It was nice to have their agreement very soon in the process, even before Montr? was awarded the Games.

The chief executive officer of Montr? 2006, Louise Roy, said there were also good signs for corporate sponsorship.

We had sponsors for the bidding process, but we will start a new sponsorship program in the next 18 months, she said. It’s still a challenge to finance the Games but we’ve been working since last year.

Organisers have set themselves a women’s participation target of 50 percent -“ which Roy admitted was a very big challenge.

We’ll have to work very hard to do it, she said. I know that Sydney worked very hard to reach 32 percent. It’s still difficult.

Registration for the 2006 Montr? Gay Games is due to be launched -“ wait for it -“ on 1 July 2004.

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