Hong Kong Gay Games Pushed Back to 2023 Due to COVID

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday September 15, 2021
Originally published on September 15, 2021

This June 20, 2017, photo, shows a general view of Victoria Peak and Central district over Victoria Harbor, in Hong Kong.
This June 20, 2017, photo, shows a general view of Victoria Peak and Central district over Victoria Harbor, in Hong Kong.  (Source:AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

The Gay Games that were slated for next year in Hong Kong have been pushed back to 2023 due to concerns around the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

"The decision to postpone the international sporting event, which is held every four specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender athletes, came amid the 'unpredictable progression' of variants as many countries in Asia struggled to contain the virus, Dennis Philipse, co-chair of the games in Hong Kong, said in a statement," the Bloomberg article added.

"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," Philipse's statement said.

The Games will be the first that an Asian country has hosted.

"Philipse said the decision was made 'proactively' due to 'the state of uncertainty and travel restrictions' amid the pandemic," the Hong Kong Free Press, which broke the story, detailed.

"We want to make sure that everyone is able to come to the event," Philipse told the publication. "We cannot be in a bubble event, people cannot be in quarantine for 21 days."

Philipse's comments were made in reference to Hong Kong's quarantine requirements, which the Free Press noted are "some of the strictest mandatory quarantine restrictions in the world".

"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," the article added.

The Federation of Gay Games voiced its agreement, with the organization's co-president, Sean Fitzgerald, saying in a statement, "The FGG stands behind Hong Kong's decision to postpone the Games, and will continue to work with the GGHK team and our member organizations 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."

"Organizers won the bid to hold the games in Hong Kong in 2017," the article detailed. "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."

Even so, some pro-Beijing lawmakers spoke out against the Games. Junius Ho declared that money brought in by the Games' spectators and participants would be "dirty," and called the event "disgraceful".

The FGG said in its statement that such homophobic rhetoric had backfired, the Free Times noted.

"Anti-inclusion objections from this small but vocal minority, however, have galvanized the resolve of our 300 volunteers, and brought out overwhelming support from the general public, business community, and other legislators," the organization's statement said.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.