Opening with an official ceremony on Saturday and running until August 12, the Gay Games has hit Paris, attracting almost 13,000 athletes from across the world.
Created to celebrate diversity and promote the visibility of gay people in sport, the opening was preceded by an International Memorial Rainbow Run to commemorate those who are living or have lost their lives to AIDS, breast cancer as well as those suffering discrimination, before participants and onlookers gathered in the Stade Jean Bouin for the Opening Ceremony. Some of those competitors included the 90 Irish athletes proudly representing Ireland.
President Higgins had previously held a reception for Team Ireland where he announced: “There can be no doubt that the Gay Games has been an inspiring leader in creating a fair and even playing field for sporting fans,” going on to praise the fundamental principal that “no individual shall be excluded from participating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political belief, athletic ability, physical challenge, age, or health status.”
Athletes representing countries where homosexuality is unwelcome, or in some cases punishable by death, took part including participants from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Russia.
Manuel Picard, co-president of the Gay Games, told reporters they are” the most inclusive in the world, anybody can participate, from an 18 year old to someone who’s 99. The principles are simple: participation, inclusiveness, surpassing oneself but not necessarily absolute performance, virilism or patriotism.”
One of the athletes interviewed, volleyball player Michael from Team USA spoke of how difficult it is to be openly gay in some countries. “I live in the city of San Francisco [where] it’s very easy to be gay. Coming to something like this there’s all sorts of people from around the world and they live in places where it’s not okay to be gay and there’s a lot of danger and safety issues. Things like this are important to show other people we’re just like them, we’re just people too. Hopefully this will change some perspectives.”
With many athletes already celebrating their wins, here’s wishing Team Ireland all the best in their respective events.
The complete opening ceremony is available to view below.
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