The man behind the Mother City Queer Project is leading a bid for Cape Town to host the 2022 Gay Games, dubbed the world’s biggest sporting and cultural event.
Ian McMahon, who is behind the annual Mother City Queer Project party in December, and owns Crew, a popular Cape Town gay bar, heads the Cape Town Gay Games XI bid steering committee.
McMahon is in the US and could not be reached for comment but Cape Town Pride – which he used to chair – confirmed his involvement. McMahon won a bronze medal at the 2002 Gay Games, in Sydney, Australia.
The Gay Games are usually hosted by interested parties, not governments, and the City of Cape Town said it was not involved.
The 10th Gay Games, in Paris in 2018, are expected to attract 15,000 contestants, making them bigger than the Olympic Games. But Federation of Gay Games director for international development, Leviathen Hendricks, admitted that no qualification process was involved.
Cape Town is competing against 10 other cities in the bid to host the games, including Tel Aviv, Hong Kong and Washington DC. They have until November 30 to complete their bid presentation.
A shortlist of three will be announced in February and a selection panel will visit each of them. The host city will be chosen in Paris later in the year.
Hendricks said anyone could participate in any sport at the games, even ones they had not played or “aren’t any good at”.
He said there was a wide range of sports, including rugby and boxing, and joked that there might even be “handbag throwing in high heels”.
New sports that will feature are archery, boxing, fencing, pétanque (a form of bowls), roller derby and wheelchair rugby.
“The Gay Games started in 1982 to foster self-acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people, and to show them and the rest of the world that we are as sporty as anyone else,” said Hendricks.
“Homophobia and transphobia are still very prevalent in sports communities all around the world.”
The last Gay Games, in Cleveland in the US in 2014, funnelled $70-million into the local economy.
South Africa was the first country to constitutionally protect the rights of LGBT people and it would be the first time an African country hosted the games.