The Gay Games 11, originally scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in  November 2022, have now been postponed and won’t be held until  November 2023.

The Games were set to make history as the first to be held  in Asia. The decision comes as Hong Kong continues to impose severe travel  restrictions amongst all travellers as part of its ‘zero-COVID,’ strategy. 

“With many parts of the world, including many across Asia, still struggling to  contain the virus and facing uneven access to vaccines, we felt that delaying  the Games until November 2023 will enhance the likelihood of delivering on  our promise to have the Hong Kong Games serve as a beacon of hope for  the wider community across the region,” said Dennis Philipse, the founder  and co-chair of the Gay Games 11 in a press release. 

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“The unpredictable progression of COVID variants and corresponding travel  restrictions continue to make it challenging for participants from around the  world to make plans to travel to Hong Kong,” said Philipse. 

Low COVID-19 Infection Rates

Hong Kong. Image: Hong Kong Gay Games Facebook

Sean Fitzgerald, the Co-president of the Federation of Gay Games,  supported the decision saying in a press release, “The FGG stands  behind Hong Kong’s decision to postpone the Games, and will continue to  work with the GGHK team and our member organisations to ensure that our  event in November 2023 delivers on meeting our core aims of participation,  inclusion and personal best to the widest possible attendance from Asia and  internationally.”  

The decision to postpone the Games will also “give sufficient time for FGG  member organizations to develop an appropriate training schedule for the  Games, and make alternate arrangements for their 2022 tournaments,”  Philipse said.  

With 51 percent of Hong Kong residents being fully vaccinated, as of September 15, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, “The most important defence is  to prevent importation of cases as far as possible.”

With its strict border  control measures Hong Kong has been able to maintain a relatively low rate  of COVID infections, with 12,149 total cases and 213 deaths, amongst its  population of 7.5 million. 

Gay Games Faced Ongoing Issues

Image: Hong Kong Gay Games Facebook

The Games, which were awarded to Hong Kong in 2017, had generated  controversy both in Hong Kong and abroad, due to inflammatory and  homophobic statements made by several Pro-Beijing LegCo members,  including Junius Ho, Priscilla Leung and Peter Shiu. 

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While Chief Executive Carrie Lam had expressed support for the Games,  organisers had been grappling with ongoing issues securing confirmed  venues for the Games, despite lawmaker Regina Ip urging the Hong Kong Legislative Council to offer assistance.

Ip said the Games would “show the  world that Hong Kong is an open, tolerant and diverse international city.”  

New Dates Will Be Announced Later

Games organisers told the Star Observer that as of August 2021, they had  only been able to confirm 21 out of the 56 required venues and Philipse  acknowledged that they “had a long way to go.” 

Ip reaffirmed her support for the Games following the announcement of the  postponement saying in a press release, “I fully support postponing the  Games to 2023, which will give the organisers more time and resources to focus on hosting a successful event, and encourage more multi-sports events  to be hosted in our incredible city.” 

The Games were originally projected to attract 12,000 participants and  75,000 spectators and would inject HK$1 billion into the local economy, left  battered by the COVID pandemic and pro-democracy protests. 

Specific dates for the rescheduled Games have yet to be confirmed and will  be made public after consultation between organizers and the FGG.

 

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