Australia will be represented by only 186 competitors at the upcoming World Outgames 2009 in Copenhagen, numbers significantly down from the last international event.

Around 700 Australian competitors went to the first World Outgames in Montreal in 2006, vastly more than those able to make the trip for the July 25 event.

Sydney is sending 80 people from various sports including softball, hockey and swimming.

Around 70 competitors will compete from Melbourne. Rowers will make up a third of that number, with representatives from swimming, tennis, athletics and volleyball.

Copenhagen has put total numbers at 5000 for those around the world who’ve signed up to compete. The April registration deadline has been extended for those wanting to register late.

Numbers for the Copenhagen event sit at almost half those attending Montreal, where 10,248 athletes competed.

Eighty-four countries will be represented at this year’s games. The majority of participants come from Europe, with 20 percent from North America.

World Outgames is an international sports, cultural and human rights event aimed at increasing the visibility and celebrating the global LGBT community through sport.

Despite lower numbers, organisers are keeping a brave face.

I am extremely happy that in these turbulent economic times, we have managed to get so many people from all corners of the world to come to Copenhagen this summer, World Outgames CEO Uffe Elbæk said in a recent statement.

The Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association’s Asia Pacific president, Peter Sagar, said there were many factors, mostly financial, causing the smaller numbers.

He also attributed lower levels of enthusiasm for this games to the 2002 Sydney Gay Games motivating Australians to attend the Montreal Outgames.

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