LIMERICK is bidding to be the host city of the 2018 Gay Games, which could see around 12,000 athletes descend on Limerick for the 10-day event if its bid is successful.
Limerick is up against London, Paris, Amsterdam, Orlando, Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro to host the games, under the first phase of the selection process by the Federation of the Gay Games (FGG).
Only three of these cities will make it to the site selection meeting in late 2013, the Federation has confirmed.
A number of representatives for Limerick’s bid are currently in Sofia, Bulgaria, to highlight the benefits of holding the event in Limerick.
If successful, this would be the first time that any Irish city has hosted the games in their 30 year history.
A number of local bodies are supporting the bid, including the organisers of Limerick Pride, the city’s gay festival, Shannon Development, the region’s Conference and Sports Bureau and the local authorities.
Karen Brosnahan, Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau, said they have been lobbying to get funding through Failte Ireland to support the bid process and “allow Limerick to put its best foot forward”.
Ms Brosnahan said they would hope Limerick will be one of three cities shortlisted to receive a site visit, and ultimately be selected to host the games. “It would be phenomenal for Limerick,” she said.
Officer for site selection with the FGG, Dennis Sneyers, said: “Bidding is long, demanding, and has a cost that any interested party needs to take into account. After a review of the responses, we consider that all bidders are able to continue the bidding process.”
Cillian Flynn, spokesperson for Limerick Pride, said huge efforts are being made to push Limerick for this event.
“It’s a massive bid process that’s going on. We have sporting facilities that are world class. When people look at the [short] list they say we don’t have a chance, but when you look at the facilities and what we have on offer, yes, we can do it,” he said.
The next Gay Games are due to be held in Cleveland in 2014, and it is expected that the host for 2018 will be announced closer to that time.
The first Gay Games took place in 1982 in San Francisco, bringing together 1,350 athletes from a dozen countries.
The games have been held every four years since in world-class cities.
The eighth Gay Games in Cologne in 2010 attracted over 10,000 participants from some 70 countries.
The games are the legacy of Dr. Tom Waddell, a decathlon competitor for the U.S. in the 1968 Olympics, who conceived of the Games as an opportunity for gays and lesbians to show the world that their skills and competitive spirit were equal to the rest of humanity.