The world’s LGBTQ communities will come together this August in beautiful Paris, for the 10th iteration of the Gay Games. Already, Paris has 5,000 athletes registered — a higher amount than previous hosts have reported this early in the process.
By Paul Heney, reprinted from TravelPulse.com
PHOTO: Gay Games 10 will take place in Paris, France in 2018. (photo by Eric Bowman)
Organizers say they have more than 800 volunteers and a large number of organizational partners helping with Gay Games 10. They are confident in attracting more participants than previous hosts. The maximum capacity is 15,000 participants, and Paris officials say they expect 40,000 visitors—and some 300,000 spectators. Athletics and aquatics are the most popular sports, and golf is already sold out.
We spoke with Manuel Picaud, the co-président of Paris 2018, to get the scoop on the event.
TravelPulse (TP): How will the Paris Gay Games differ from past iterations of the Games?
Manuel Picaud (MP): Paris 2018 will host the first Gay Games in a French-speaking country—the same country where the Olympics were born. France is very passionate about sports. It will also be the site of the Olympics in 2024, the Rugby World Cup in 2023, the Golf Ryder Cup in 2018 and the Women’s World Championship of Soccer or Handball in 2019.
Gay Games in Paris will also be for the first time in a real capital city, in a city of culture and of art de vivre. Paris 2018–Gay Games 10 is also organized by a federation of organizations that has never been seen before. That means organizers have huge experience with organizing large sporting and cultural events like the International Tournament of Paris for 15 years.
And many national sports federations are committed to the success of the Gay Games. Finally, never has a city had such institutional support even from the President of the Republic (high patronage), the national and regional governments and, of course, the City of Paris.
TP: Tell us a little bit about the specific venues for the Games. How were they chosen and what advantages/benefits do you think they give you?
The Paris 2018 team chose the best venues for participants in all districts of the city, some in the greater Paris region and even in Normandy for sailing in Le Havre. The opening ceremony will be held at Jean Bouin Stadium, a brand-new stadium of 20,000 seats—and the opening party will follow at the Grand Palais, built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900, with the largest glass roof in Europe.
The village for the Gay Games will welcome all participants, visitors and locals for 10 days at the City Hall Plaza in the heart of Paris. For sports, Olympic George Vallerey swimming pool, Track & Field Charlety Stadium, Lutèce Arena for pétanque, Aren'Ice for ice sports, La Boulie for golf or Versailles Castle for mountain biking are some of the nicest sports venues chosen by our team. For culture, Fashion and Design City or Casino of Paris add some other great venues for welcoming all participants and offering concerts. And the whole city will be covered in the colors of Gay Games 10.
TP: How has the local community responded to the planning for the Games? Have there been any supporting organizations that surprised you?
MP: Paris 2018 gathers energy from all sides of our society: student associations, unions, NGOs, LGBT organizations, sports federations and clubs. More than 100 partners have made our dreams come true. Paris 2018 is an organization set up for the event, thanks to all those partners. We are very proud of gathering so many committed organizations.
TP: What sort of vibe do you think Paris brings to the Games?
MP: Paris 2018 is about sport and culture, but also human rights and a way of life. We believe we offer the best place to enjoy all activities of the Games in the nicest environment. Paris 2018 is also pioneering to fight prejudices in sport, not only in our country but in the world. Paris offers a huge platform to change the world and share the principles of Gay Games (participation, inclusion and personal best) and our values of diversity, respect, equality, solidarity and sharing.
TP: Do you think that the Games will have any sort of lasting effect on Paris or France in general? What might the legacy be?
MP: We have built a legacy plan with the French government and the City of Paris. Gay Games is an event aiming to change the attitude towards sport. There are several fields that we are working on, long-term.
First of all, Gay Games will have a real economic impact of $78 million from a mere $6 million budget. Gay Games will change homophobic behaviors in sports with several campaigns for equality in sport, with a new section of same-sex couples in figure skating or dance sport, with many debates in schools, firms, universities and sports federations.
And, of course, Paris and France will show to the world how LGBT-friendly our city and our country is. We expect that volunteers at Gay Games will also be selected for the Olympic Games. Our educational program will also be useful for [future] events.
TP: Are there any special (non-sporting) events being planned in conjunction with the Games?
MP: Paris 2018–Gay Games is not only about sport but also about culture. You can find our cultural program on our website. Many events are organized during the week for all visitors, participants and inhabitants: choir concerts, bands, symphonic orchestras, movie festivals, ballet and visual art exhibitions.
There are some moments of remembrance planned, like the international Memorial Rainbow Run and an exhibition of AIDS quilts. And, there is a three-day international conference on sports for all to make recommendations (legacy again) to improve the practice of sport by everybody.
TP: What else do potential travelers need to know about the 2018 Games?
MP: August in Paris is a very attractive period—the weather is usually warm and sunny. Hotel rooms are cheaper than during other periods. Paris 2018 has negotiated a large block of accommodations in Paris and the suburbs with an official travel agent.
KTS France offers a large scale of services including special fares on Air France, our official airline. By traveling with KTS France, you will not only get the best rates to attend the Gay Games, but you will help Paris 2018 to offer more scholarships for other participants.
For more information, visit www.paris2018.com.