Almost 13,000 gay athletes from around the world are converging on Sydney for the sixth Gay Games sports and cultural festival--the biggest sporting event the city has hosted since the 2000 Olympics.
The weeklong event kicks off with a colorful three-hour opening ceremony on Saturday night, before scores of gay men and women take to the track, pool, ice rink, and dance floor to compete in 31 different sports and 11 cultural competitions.
Games cochair Peter Bailey said men and women, aged 18 years to almost 80, from 83 countries are taking part in the Games, which are held every four years. Sydney marks the sixth time the Gay Games has been staged. The last event was in Amsterdam in 1998, and the next event will be in Montreal in 2006.
Olympic sports including the marathon, swimming, basketball, cycling, and sailing are all part of the Games, which end November 9. But organizers have added several other sports to cater to the diverse interests of participants. "We don't have all of the Olympic sports, but we have some that the Olympics don't cater to--for instance, golf...and a dance competition," Bailey said.
The cultural program includes visual arts, poetry, and drama competitions and parties.