Some of the most-LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world have expressed interest in hosting the Gay Games in 2030.

The starting gun was fired Tuesday in the race to be awarded the 13th edition of one of the world’s largest LGBTQ-inclusive multisport events.

The most recent Gay Games, co-hosted in Hong Kong and Guadalajara after a year-long delay caused by the pandemic, have been called a relative success by many, even though the combined number of participating athletes across the two sites was considerably lower than at Paris 2018.

The Federation of Gay Games will hope for a stronger turnout at Valencia 2026, but looking beyond that, a long list of cities from whom prospective bid teams have requested information about the process for 2030 has now been released.

Six continents are represented:

North America: Edmonton, Vancouver (both Canada); Atlanta, Birmingham, Boston, Denver, Honolulu, Miami, Minneapolis, Oak Creek, San Antonio, San Diego, Seattle (all USA)

South America: Sao Paulo (Brazil)

Africa: Cape Town, Johannesburg (both South Africa)

Asia: Taipei (Taiwan)

Europe: Frankfurt (Germany); Athens (Greece); Liverpool, London (both UK)

Oceania: Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth (all Australia); Auckland (New Zealand)

The level of interest at this preliminary stage has been described as “record breaking” by the FGG’s Officer of Site Selection, Austin Manning.

“As regions and countries around the world continue to take legislative and social action to protect human rights and create pathways to equality for all, the 2030 Long List includes 25 cities committed to empowering, uplifting, and celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community at home and abroad,” Manning said.

Eight of the 25 cities are looking to return to the process having missed out last time. Auckland, San Diego and Taipei made it to the penultimate shortlist for 2026, while Cape Town, Liverpool, Minneapolis, Sao Paulo and Seattle also submitted bids.

The chances of the week-long Gay Games being held in Europe for a third time in four cycles look slim, but Liverpool remains hopeful.

The LCR Pride Foundation in Liverpool is again behind their bid, which follows on from the city last year successfully hosting Eurovision, another major event in the LGBTQ calendar.

LCR Pride Foundation CEO Andi Herring said: “Since founding LCR Pride Foundation, one of our ambitions has been to host the Gay Games. Five years later, it is great to see our city region listed in the long-list for the 2030 Games and we are delighted to be amongst such good company.

“Our commitment to making Liverpool City Region the most LGBT+ friendly region in the UK has gone from strength to strength… combined with the region’s rich sporting history and renowned reputation worldwide makes the city region a fitting host.”

The 10th Gay Games in Paris, held in August 2018, attracted around 10,000 athletes from 91 nations.

Eurovision brought an estimated $70 million into the local Liverpool city region. The FGG says the economic boost provided by the Gay Games can be even more impactful, putting Paris 2018 in the $117-million bracket. Cleveland-Akron 2014 is said to have raked in $52 million.

In March, all 25 prospective city bids will learn what documentation they must provide if they want to proceed to the next stage.

The FGG says this covers “a broad range of subjects such as sports they plan to host, facilities they plan to use, funding, organization composition, and more.”

From there, representatives will be invited to attend the FGG’s next annual general meeting — due to be held in Washington, D.C., in October — where they will be expected to present a preliminary bid book and answer questions.

Three cities will make it to the final stage after which the presumptive host for the 2030 Gay Games XIII will be named in November 2025 at an FGG summit in Valencia.

Vancouver is the only one of the 2030 contenders to have hosted the Gay Games before, in 1990. In total, North America has hosted six of the 11 previous editions.

Of the U.S. candidates, Oak Creek in Wisconsin will be seen by many as an outside bet going up against more established LGBTQ travel destinations and cities with gayborhoods, such as Boston and Miami.

The latter was set to host the rival World OutGames event in 2017, but that fell apart at the eleventh hour in a disastrous turn of events for all concerned.

The FGG appreciates that hosting the Gay Games is a colossal undertaking for any bid team, with guarantees needed from local officials and organizations, and often political wranglings to overcome.

Reliability and assurances are key factors.

“The FGG is proud to maintain an equitable, supportive, and transparent bidding process which empowers communities to mobilize their stakeholders and unite to participate in the global LGBTQIA+ movement as athletes, artists, and allies,” said the Federation.

It’s still 6 12 years away, but Gay Games 2030 is already generating some excitement.

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