After two years of preparation, the Johannesburg Gay Games Bid Committee will soon present its final bid in Chicago to host the Gay Games VIII in 2010.

With rehearsals on 11 November, and a final video/live presentation on the 12th, we’ll know on 13 November whether Johannesburg has won the bid to host one of the world’s largest mass sporting and cultural events.

Johannesburg is bidding against Paris, France and Cologne, Germany.

The bid is being led by the city’s gay and lesbian community and the specially created Section 21 not for profit organisation that includes over 50 active members contributing thousands of volunteer hours.

James Mathias, Bid co-chair, will lead the delegation of nine. The City of Johannesburg will be represented by Clr. Christine Walters on behalf of Executive Mayor Amos Masondo.

Eddy Khosa, CEO of The Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTC), a key bid supporter, will join Bongi Mokaba, the Director of Special Events for the City. In addition, South African Tourism will be represented by Claude Pretorius, Portfolio Manager for the Americas; and Gauteng Tourism Authority will be represented by CEO, Advocate Cawe Mahlati.

Johannesburg’s Bid was lodged on 15 March this year and three delegates from the Federation did a site inspection in August.

“We surprised ourselves with how highly our venues rate, and our community support nearly overwhelmed them,” says Mathias. “There was exceptional support from the government, civic society and the community, with people coming out to welcome the delegates and show their active support for the Games being held in Johannesburg.”

“We know, from research done at the 2002 Sydney Games, that almost 5,000 of the expected participants come from North America and about as many from Europe. This is not just a sporting and cultural event for them – it is a trip of a lifetime,” said CEO of the Gauteng Tourism Authority Adv. Cawe Mahlati. “Most won’t just come for the 8 day Games. They’ll take a few weeks and that gives the entire province – and country – an opportunity to benefit.”

Eddy Khosa of the JTC said the venues for the various sports and cultural events are highly rated. The infrastructure is outstanding, although the transport structure is viewed as problematic and there are unfortunate perspectives about safety. “But the general capacity is world class – our venues, hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, cultural offerings, and other amenities are of a very high standard. Where we came up short we’ll fix,” Khosa said.

A big plus factor for the Johannesburg Bid, according to Mathias, is the budget for the Games, something which is rigorously scrutinised by the Federation. “With the help of the City we were able to retain KPMG who created a superb financial tool that proves we can make every financial decision a conservative one and still host world class Games,” he said.

The operational budget submitted as part of the bid is set at approximately R48 million. The economic benefits for Johannesburg, based on South African Tourism estimated spend amounts, are easily over R400 million, with multi-million Rand spin-offs in Gauteng and other provinces (mainly in respect of pre- and post-Games tourism by participants and visitors to the Games). Job creation is also supported with 38 part-and full-time jobs, mostly starting in 2007, at least 402 support jobs during the Games for organisers, coaches, medical support, etc. and hundreds more jobs for transportation, catering, sponsors, on so forth. A big media contingent is also expected – in fact a US cable TV station is ready to negotiate a million-dollar deal with the 2010 host as soon as the host is announced.

Another plus, he said, was the emotional appeal of South Africa, with its liberation struggle history and its constitution which is highly rated by world standards and the only constitution in the world that gives protection based on sexual orientation.

If Johannesburg gets the nod for the Games, more than 11 000 participants will take part in at least 27 sports and various cultural activities. Newtown will be turned into “The Ubuntu Village” with sports hubs at Ellis Park Sports Precinct, the Randburg Sports Precinct, and Marks’ Park where multi-sports will be concentrated. One-off sports are proposed for the Kollonade in Pretoria (the country’s only ice-hockey rink of the required standard), Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Course, Kyalami, Cresta and the Brightwater Commons.

“Our bid has three main strengths,” said Tanya Harford, Co-Chair. “First we produce a world-class product in mostly superb venues for almost half the price of either of our competitors. Second, the Games have never been held in a developing country and we know the Federation wants to expand. Thirdly, we have a strong desire to host these Games not just for the competition and fun they’ll bring, but because many of our sisters and brothers still struggle for their constitutional rights – here and especially in the rest of Africa. These Games will change Africa,” said Harford.

If Johannesburg’s bid is successful, Gay Games VIII will be held over eight days approximately 12 weeks after the Soccer World Cup in the city. “This will add enormously to the international interest in the Gay Games,” says Khosa. “The success of the Gay Games will also be considerably enhanced by the multi-million upgrading of infrastructure and venues that are in train for the Soccer World Cup.

On the Sunday morning (13 November), the three bid cities will take part in a joint Questions and Answer session and the Federation will announce at 23:00 South African time which city has been awarded the eighth International Gay Games in 2010.


Come to Rhino Bar (Heartlands) in the afternoon to send good vibes to our delegation in Chicago. From 14h30. Free of charge! DJ’s: Frank and Morne. Sun 13 Nov.

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