Let the (Out) Games Begin

With 2,500 fewer participants than organizers had originally hoped for, the second annual Outgames forges ahead in Copenhagen despite the world economic crisis -- one sporting event at a time.



The worldwide economic crisis has severely impacted participation in the second-ever, eight-day World Outgames, which kicks off Saturday night in Copenhagen. Now organizers are hoping Mother Nature doesn't also rain on the event... literally.

The Opening Ceremony is an outdoor tribute traditionally reserved for Danish royalty and national sports heroes at City Hall Square in the heart of Copenhagen. The parade of nations will be across a catwalk constructed specifically for the event and about 100 countries will be represented. Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard is even scheduled to attend.

The World Outgames is the biggest LGBT event of 2009 and the third-biggest event of the year in Copenhagen, behind only a major International Olympic Committee event in October and the Climate Conference in December.

"When I left the office today, there were more than 100 volunteers still working," Outgames director Uffe Elbaek said Wednesday. "There was a focused, calm atmosphere. We're seeing everything come together. It's a really nice feeling. As the event organizer, it was a big challenge as we were hit by the economic crisis. So we really had to navigate very wisely, and still do.

"There are about 2,500 fewer [registered participants] than [the 8,000] we were hoping for, but, seeing the spectrum of the financial crisis, I think it's really, really good numbers. Overall I'm very happy about the event."

This year's Outgames follows the inaugural 2006 event, which was held in Montreal... and turned out to be a financial disaster for its local organizing committee, which filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2006, with more than $5 million owed to private investors and the Canadian government, among others.

With a different organizing committee in place, Copenhagen doesn't inherit Montreal's debt -- but rest assured the numbers were watched very carefully to ensure history wouldn't repeat itself.

Tags: Sports