The Hong Kong Gay Games have been postponed until November 2023 in view of the current coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions, its organisers have told HKFP.
The games, the first to be held in Asia, were originally set to take place next November.
Hong Kong Gay Games founder and co-chair Dennis Philipse said the decision was made “proactively” due to “the state of uncertainty and travel restrictions” amid the pandemic. Hong Kong currently enforces some of the strictest mandatory quarantine restrictions in the world, despite some experts calling them unnecessary. Only fully vaccinated Hong Kong residents are currently allowed to enter the city from “high risk” countries, after which they must serve 21 days of mandatory quarantine in a hotel.
“We want to make sure that everyone is able to come to the event,” Philipse told HKFP. “We cannot be in a bubble event, people cannot be in quarantine for 21 days.”
He said that the postponement would allow participants to train, as access to sporting facilities and swimming pools had been restricted across Asia. The founder added that they had not made any venue bookings prior to the postponement and sponsors remained committed to the event.
“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,” a statement read on Wednesday.
‘Widest possible attendance’
The postponement was supported by the governing Federation of Gay Games.
“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,” Co-president Sean Fitzgerald said in a statement.
Organisers won the bid to hold the games in Hong Kong in 2017. They were expected to have an economic impact of around HK$1 billion, drawing 12,000 participants, 75,000 spectators and 3,000 from 100 countries.
The games drew controversy in June, when some pro-Beijing lawmakers urged the government not to support the games.
The city’s leader Carrie Lam slammed the comments as “unnecessarily divisive,” though the authorities had not made any special arrangements to facilitate venue bookings, despite several appeals.
In their Wednesday statement, organisers said lawmakers had distracted the media from the “Unity in Diversity” mission of the games: “Anti-inclusion objections from this small but vocal minority, however, have galvanised the resolve of our 300 volunteers, and brought out overwhelming support from the general public, business community, and other legislators.”
“2023 will be the perfect to shine,” Philipse told HKFP, adding that they were considering booking some private venues for the games.
More to follow – refresh to update.