Brisbane’s bid to host the 2026 Gay Games has today come one step closer to reality, with the city included as one of eight to be shortlisted to host the hotly anticipated competition. Brisbane sits alongside Auckland (New Zealand), Toronto (Canada), Guadalajara (Mexico), Munich (Germany), San Diego (USA), Taipei (Taiwan) and Valencia (Spain).

The Gay Games are a global quadrennial sport and cultural event open to all. From its inception in San Francisco in 1982 it has grown into an event spanning 10 days with 10,000 athletes competing in more than 35 sports.

Star Observer asked Jason Davis, chairman of the board organising Brisbane’s bid to host the event, what makes Brisbane such a great candidate, to which he replied enthusiastically.

I think there are a couple of reason, moving away from a big city is one, if we look at bigger cities, events can get lost in the buzz of the city. [Whereas] when you have a smaller city that is not as big, the event can have a much higher profile. Plus, we have year-round great weather, and Brisbane can act as a springboard to other locations such as Sydney or Melbourne down south, or even the Great Barrier Reef up north.”

Brisbane is of course well equipped to host large scale sporting events, with many world class facilities dotted across the city and the broader South East Queensland area, which recently played host to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

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 “In the time that I’ve been here, it’s grown, and there has been quite an appetite for major events” Jason continues  “We just had the Commonwealth Games as example. The city has kind of sat back in the past and hasn’t really been proactive, but I think now it’s had a few of these major events under its belt, we are actually making progress and coming of age.”

Also clear is the economic benefit that the Gay Games bring to host cities. Most recently it was estimated that the impact of the 2018 Gay Games in Paris was a cool $117.9 million.

The last time an Australian city played host to the Gay Games was in 2002, when the event was hosted by Sydney.

But the positive impacts of the event go further, with Jason adding that, We’ve seen since we launched the campaign that the number of inclusive sporting teams here have doubled. We’ve also seen a number of conferences springing up talking about inclusion in sport and that’s been sparked by interest in the Gay Games.

If we look at things in regard to social change, this allows us to have a broader conversation within mainstream media as well.”

It will be several months until Brisbane knows if it’s bid to host the Gay Games is successful, with the next big announcement due in January.

The competition itself is next slated to take place in Hong Kong in 2022.

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