Organisers of the upcoming Gay Games in Hong Kong have axed three sports from the international sport and cultural event due to a low number of sign-ups. They also expressed disappointment over the Hong Kong Football Club’s decision to withdraw its venue for the football finals.

Gay Games Hong Kong basketball
Gay Games Hong Kong basketball team. File photo: Gay Games Hong Kong.

There will not be competitions in track and field, field hockey and Rugby 7s after registrations were halted, organisers told HKFP on Friday. The multisport event for the LGBTQ community and its allies is set to be held from November 3 to 11.

The decision came after the organising team in Hong Kong said they had held recent “in-depth discussions” with the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) concerning the preparation progress of the tournament. They took into account the number of registrations to date, the trend of registrations, the likelihood of an uptick in registrations and the cost of staging the event before deciding to scrap the three sports, a spokesperson said.

“These are hard but necessary discussions that need to be had to ensure that the Games can go ahead and that we are accountable for the funding we have raised to stage the Games. The FGG is fully supportive of this approach,” the organisers said.

Those who had signed up to the cancelled events would receive a full refund if they decided not to come to the city. Organisers said they were still hoping to include exhibition games for field hockey and Rugby 7s, which would involve a stand-alone competition organised locally to support the Gay Games.

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The organising team of Gay Games Hong Kong also confirmed with HKFP on Friday that the Hong Kong Football Club informed them on Wednesday that it would no longer provide a venue for the football finals.

“We are of course disappointed that we are unable to use the Hong Kong Football Club venue,” a spokesman said, adding the football tournaments, include the final matches, would be held at the Jockey Club HKFA Training Centre in Tseung Kwan O.

HKFP has reached out to the Hong Kong Football Club for comment.

‘Experience session’

According to the event website, there are 18 sports remaining which are open for registration for anyone aged 18 or above regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity. They included badminton, dodgeball, fencing, swimming, trail running and others.

Sailing is also listed as one of the sports to be featured at the Games in November, but the organisers told HKFP that it would be an experience session rather than a competition and therefore would not take any public registrations.

gay games
Hong Kong representatives at the 2018 Gay Games held in Paris, France. Photo: Gay Games Hong Kong.

Last month, the organisers said that sign-ups were more than 90 per cent below target. Hong Kong ‘s Covid-19 rules had previously hampered publicity efforts, they said.

In February 2022, Hong Kong Gay Games founder and leader Dennis Philipse announced he was stepping down, citing “continuing uncertainty” over the city’s international travel regulations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hong Kong was initially meant to be the sole host of the Games, which were postponed for a year due to the pandemic. The organisers announced last year that Hong Kong and Guadalajara would co-host the event to allow more participants to take part should Hong Kong’s Covid-19 restrictions remain.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.