Gay Games 10 will be one of the largest in the history of the quadrennial event that dates back to its 1982 launch in San Francisco, which attracted 1,350 worldwide participants.
The 2018 edition will take place Aug. 4-12 in Paris, and local organizers are truly waving the rainbow flag with pride as the event has more than 10,000 registered individual participants and more than 620 teams from 86 countries. In addition, organizers raised almost $4 million to cover the cost of the event.
There are expected to be about 12,000 participants in the sports and cultural events, and more than 30,000 are expected to attend the multisport extravaganza, in which the top five sports among registrants are the 5K and 10K races ( 1,250 participants ), swimming ( 1,100 ), half-marathon and full marathon ( 820 ), soccer ( 780 ) and volleyball ( 720 ).
"The city wears the rainbow colors and our whole program is confirmed and ready for the Gay Games. The number of participants has reached our goals," Manuel Picaud, co-president of the Paris 2018 local organizing committee, stated. "We are getting very excited. We are thrilled to welcome all participants and visitors to Paris.
"We have a mission to deal with the mindset [toward LGBT individuals] in sports and more generally to combat discrimination in sport, culture and society. For example, 500,000 people [were expected to] march with the motto 'Against discrimination in sports as in our lives' during the annual LGBT Pride of Paris," in late June.
Picaud was filled with joy when talking with Windy City Times before the opening ceremony. In fact, he said his lone concern now is the weather, so it's not too hot for the marathon or too rainy for open-air events.
The Paris Games have about a three-to=one male-female ratio of registrants, ranging in age from 18 to 90, with an average of 43, Picaud said.
About one-third of all registrants will be from the United States, including 162 from Illinois.
The five countries with the most represetation at Paris 2018 will be France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.
Registration was scheduled to end July 4 at midnight Paris time.
"We have built a legacy plan with our members, but also with the French government and the City of Paris. Paris 2018 is pioneering to fight prejudices in sport, not only in our country, but in the world," Picaud said. "Gay Games is an event to change the attitude towards sport and combat homophobic behaviors in sport with several campaigns for equality in sport, with several conferences about sport for all and against discriminations, with many debates and new educational program in schools, firms, universities or sports federations, [plus] a new section of same-sex couples in figure skating or dance sport.
"We set up a foundation, Inclusion Paris 2018, which will continue our work for inclusion of LGBT people in sport and culture. There will be new rainbow signs in the city for the Gay Games and after the Games. And, of course, the most exciting moment of Gay Games 10 will be the opening ceremony.
"Gay Games 10 will be a success if participants, spectators, volunteers, partners and sponsors will have a great experience and are happy with our program, our city and all celebrations. We focus on that."
Pascale Reinteau, the Paris 2018 co-president with Picaud, confirmed that most of all 36 sports sold out their capacity, particularly tennis, golf, water-polo, flag soccer, rowing, running and swimming.
The five sports with the fewest registrants are fencing, diving, speedskating, mountain biking and judo.
Rugby and roller derby were initially scheduled, but were eliminated due to low registration, though organizers proposed other activities to those registrants, Reinteau said
The opening ceremony will be held at the 20,000-seat Jean Bouin Stadium.
"After the life-changing parade of all athletes, artists and supporters, there will be a fantastic show with hundreds of dancers and well-known artists, and of course some speeches, memorial moments and a lot of emotion," Picaud said.
The closing ceremonywith the traditional passing of the flame to the next host city, Hong Kong, for 2022will be held at the City Hall Plaza in the heart of Paris. "It will be amazing," Picaud said.
Picaud and Reinteau stressed that local organizers, along with local and national police and the army, are taking all possible actions to provide the highest level of security for all Gay Games 10 participants, volunteers, visitors and supporters.