The international Federation of Gay Games has announced that Cape Town has been selected to host the Federation’s 2008 annual meeting in October.

Cape Town trumped bids from two US cities, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Palm Springs, California to host the meeting scheduled from 21 to 25 October.

“In selecting Cape Town to host in 2008, the Federation continues its long tradition of gathering in locations around the world to ensure strong ties within the global Gay Games sport and cultural communities,” said the organisation in a statement.

Cape Town will mark the Federation’s fourth annual meeting in the southern hemisphere. The Federation met in Sydney in 1996 and 2000 and in Johannesburg in 2001.

The Johannesburg meeting drew participants from several African countries such as Nigeria and Namibia and launched a landmark scholarship program to bring African athletes to the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.

Ian McMahon, Chairperson of Cape Town Pride and a Federation of Gay Games assembly delegate from TOGS (The Organisation of Gay Sports), said he wanted to draw worldwide attention to gay sport in South Africa and that he sees the conference as a rally point to bring together the communities of Cape Town.

In 2005, Johannesburg mounted a bid for the 2010 Gay Games, but lost out to Cologne, Germany; reportedly in a very tight race.

Federation board member and Officer of International Development Shane Blakebrough from Johannesburg said, “I think the meeting will help to reintroduce the LGBTI community in South Africa to the need to participate and support our own sporting clubs”.

Community outreach activities are planned with local organisations after the meeting. Assembly delegates and board members will be travelling to South Africa from the United States, Europe, Australia, and, for the first time, South America.

“We’re pleased to return to South Africa for our annual meeting”, said Federation co-president Emy Ritt of Paris. “The social and economic challenges in Africa for LGBT sport and cultural organisations are unique and there is no better way to learn from each other than by meeting our Gay Games friends in their own part of the world”.

The next Gay Games is in Cologne, Germany in August 2010.

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