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.
Low COVID-19 Infection Rates
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
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.
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.