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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



Gay Games 2010 Revs Up
Extended for the Online Edition
by Ross Forman

This article shared 6479 times since Wed Apr 23, 2008
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Jochen Farber said he experienced nothing but friendship and hospitality in 2006, when he came to Chicago for Gay Games VIII—from Mayor Richard Daley to the cab drivers he encountered.

Farber wants to repay that hospitality—to Chicago and the rest of the world—in 2010 when the next round of Gay Games takes place in Cologne, Germany. Farber is, after all, the head of public relations/marketing.

'I believe we'll have a lot of people from Chicago come over to Cologne in 2010, and hopefully we can give back in some way to the friendliness we experienced from the people of Chicago,' he said by phone. 'The preparations are working fine.'


Delegates from the Gay Games VIII in Cologne, Germany, are pictured at the Federation of Gay Games 25th anniversary gala last fall in San Francisco. Photo by Rick Gerharter


The Federation of Gay Games ( FGG ) has already had two site visits, including a visit from Emy Ritt, of Paris, who was elected FGG's new female co-president after Kathleen Webster announced her retirement. Webster had served in the position since 2001. Sion O'Connor continues as the male co-president.

'The philosophy of the Gay Games in Chicago was, in the beginning, [ to ] start with the small sponsors, such as the bars and clubs, and [ with ] the [ smaller ] sponsors [ on board ] , it will make it easier to ask the bigger sponsors,' Farber said. 'We're doing it slightly different. We're trying to approach some bigger companies in the beginning, and this is companies that we know we have good contacts.'

Cologne organizers announced in February that gay-Parship, which is Europe's leading online LGBT matchmaking site, is confirmed as an exclusive partner.

Gay Games VIII is scheduled to happen July 31-Aug. 7, 2010.

'We want to welcome all of the people from all over the world to Cologne, so everyone has a great feeling,' Farber said. 'We want to do something in Cologne with the Cologne Games, that future [ Gay Games ] organizers can build on and further develop the story.'

Official registration for Gay Games VIII kicks off on July 1 for 33 disciplines, including chess.

Windy City Times: What's been the biggest surprise so far?

Jochen Farber: [ It's been ] the huge support from the gay community worldwide. We're getting a huge number of e-mails from people all over the world, all offering their help to do promotions for the Games. That is/was a very big surprise for us. We're getting people from Australia, the U.S. and Europe offering their help to us.

WCT: What new sports and/or activities are planned for Cologne?

JF: In the agreement with the FGG, the core sports are not changing; they are the same as in Chicago. The additional sports for Cologne will be chess, billiards, dance sports, team handball, beach volleyball, inline skating, table tennis, climbing, sailing and field hockey.

WCT: Why was chess added as a sport?

JF: Well, in Europe it really is a big sport; people really like it. And for us it's easy to organize.

WCT: What do you anticipate being the top sport—the most popular sport?

JF: I think badminton will have the most participants. I think dancing and figure skating will be the most popular.

WCT: What are your predictions ... the number of overall participants, the number of males, females, Americans?

JF: The same number as attended in Chicago: 12,000 athletes. Our hope is to be 50-50 male-female but, in the end, I don't think that will be realistic; I think there will be more males than females. We believe about 40 percent of the participants will come from North America, 40 percent from Europe and the remaining 20 percent from the rest of the world.

WCT: What did the Cologne organizers learn from the Chicago Games that you definitely plan to implement in 2010?

JF: One of the positives was the exhibitions, and we're going to try to do something similar here. We also very much like the Local Ambassadors program of Chicago; we're trying to incorporate that into the FGG Ambassadors Program. The other thing is, the marketing tools ... we are still in very [ close ] contact with Chicago team people, such as Tracy Baim and Kevin Boyer. In Chicago, they went to the people to get them signed up; they didn't just mail a bunch of flyers to an event and hope they got distributed. That worked. We think we will do the same, and we're discussing with Chicago [ organizing ] people about helping on that level in the U.S.

WCT: For those who have never been to Cologne, tell us about the city and its gay community.

JF: There are about 1 million people living in Cologne, of which about 10 percent are openly gay and lesbian. Cologne has the biggest gay community in Germany. To [ be gay or lesbian ] and walk publicly holding hands is normal; that's been the case for 15 or 20 years already. Cologne is in the heart of Europe, so you can reach every bigger European city in a few hours.

WCT: How emotional was the Closing Ceremony in Chicago, knowing that Cologne was next?

JF: At that point, I wasn't really highly involved with the [ Cologne ] operations, yet it still was very emotional just observing it. I know that the mayor of Cologne, along with the co-presidents for the organizing committee, [ were ] thrilled at that moment. The atmosphere in [ Wrigley Field ] was just brilliant. Taking the flag from Chicago was, for our whole committee, the most emotional moment for the whole Games in Chicago.

WCT: What will the Cologne legacy be?

JF: People, technology and reach.

WCT: The Chicago Games had a lot of celebrity involvement. Do you foresee that in Cologne, too?

JF: For sure. But we're not able to discuss the names now, not until contracts are signed. We saw from the past that having celebrities involved is important.

WCT: Do you foresee a financial success, or at least breaking even like Chicago did?

JF: For sure, we foresee a financial success. The reason for fronting an event like this is not just about tolerance and participation; we want this to be a [ financial ] success. Our goal is not to win money; our goal is to break even, as they did in Chicago. The fact the Chicago Games broke even was of huge importance and will have a huge impact for us locally, image-wise. It really helps with our sponsors.

WCT: That said, what is the plan in Cologne to break even financially?

JF: Our total budget is about 10 million euros, and most of that is value in-kind. With sponsors and partners, we are confident we will be able to break even. And it looks quite fine right now.

WCT: Has there been any negative publicity and/or protests, much the way Chicago endured slight problems in [ Crystal Lake ] , where the rowing was held?

JF: As previously mentioned, it's totally normal to be gay or lesbian and walk hand-in-hand, or kiss one another in public. So, there is not any group in Cologne that would object to the Games. Gay and lesbian life is integrated [ in Cologne ] for years now, so I don't even see [ that subject ] coming up.

WCT: Was there anything in particular that you saw in Chicago that you do not want to incorporate into the Cologne Games?

JF: This is a tough one, because I don't want to criticize after an event. Plus, the job that Chicago did was terrific, especially given the time frame that they had to prepare. However, there is one thing, and I think everyone in Chicago agrees too, that we definitely want to do different—the Opening Ceremony. It was nice, but much too long, too much speaking, too many speeches. Our idea of the Opening Ceremony in 2010 is not to do as many political statements. Any statements, we want to make them with pictures, not words, if you know what I mean.

We want to have a fantastic Opening Ceremony with entertainment, and deliver the FGG message: inclusion, participation and personal best.

WCT: Does it seem like it's over two years away, or does it seem like it's rapidly approaching?

JF: That's a good question. It feels like right now we're in a very good shape. Sure, not everything is done, but we have a lot of time to do it. We're trying to move a little quicker, particularly in the North American market, having a presence and doing public relations work.

WCT: How much impact will the 2009 Outgames in Copenhagen have on the Gay Games, and how much presence will Gay Games organizers have in Copenhagen—to observe and promote the 2010 event?

JF: I know that the people who will [ participate in Copenhagen ] or main clients, so to speak, they don't care about [ the politics between the two events. ] They just want to do their sports, meet other people and have a great time. I know they're going to do that in Copenhagen and in Cologne.

For us, it's a must to be in Copenhagen because a large percent of [ the participants ] might also come to Cologne, so it would not be correct to miss the event and the chance to promote Cologne.

Right now we are in quite a friendly relationship with the organizing committee of Copenhagen.

See .

This article shared 6479 times since Wed Apr 23, 2008
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