Organisers of the 2006 Chicago Gay Games have announced that they now have more than 11,000 participants from more than 50 countries committed to attending. The 7th Gay Games Sports & Cultural Festival takes place in Chicago between the 15th and 22nd of July 2006.

“Regular registration ended on 15 April 2006 and we saw a significant surge in sign ups as individuals sought to avoid late fees,” said Sam Coady, Gay Games Chicago Board Co-Chair. “Many sports are nearly full and others will close soon so that our Sports Managers can finalise schedules and officials for these huge tournaments. We continue to urge individuals to register soon to avoid losing a spot in their favourite sport.”

In fact, it may be too late for some already: “Racquetball, has now closed,” said Teresa Adams, Gay Games Sports Manager. “Golf and Sailing are both closed,” added Frank Kisner, Gay Games Sports Manager, “and only available through a wait list. Ice Hockey, Badminton, Basketball, and Soccer (Football) are approaching their limits and will likely close soon.”

It is ultimately expected that over 12 000 athletes from more than 70 countries will compete at the Games in 30 sports ranging from softball to dancesport, swimming to tennis. The weeklong event will include band, cheerleading and colour guard performances, chorus, an ancillary arts festival, and a series of community-organised social events and parties.

The Gay Games was conceived by Dr. Tom Waddell, an Olympic decathlete, and was first held in San Francisco in 1982 with 1,350 participants. Subsequent Gay Games have been held in San Francisco (1986; 3,500 participants), Vancouver (1990; 7,300 participants), New York (1994; 12,500 participants), Amsterdam (1998; 13,000 participants), and Sydney (2002; 11,000 participants).

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