At the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) Annual General Assembly (AGA) this year held in Guadalajara, Mexico. A major topic of discussion and interest was regarding the current political protests, civil unrest and police brutality in Hong Kong and the future of the next Gay Games scheduled to be hosted in November 2022 in Hong Kong.
There is a lot of concern and uncertainty as to how the current protests will impact the capabilities of the Gay Games Hong Kong (GGHK) Host Committee to organize a successful event. Even though the games aren’t scheduled to take place for another three years, the process of organizing one of the world’s largest, international, multi-sport events is not an easy task. Following the conclusion of the AGA, the FGG and GGHK Host Committee have released a joint statement to help answer questions and provide guidance to the uncertainty regarding the current political situation and the organization of the event.
In the joint statement, both the FGG board and the GGHK are optimistic regarding the progress of the event organization itself and believe that the event will be an important moment to help “kickstart and foster LGBTQ+ connections among our communities in the city and region.”
Additionally, reports from attending members shared that the FGG and GGHK are working to develop and establish “measurable criteria for monthly assessments of Hong Kong security levels” of which the FGG will collaborate with GGHK to assess the situation on a monthly basis. Additionally, they are working to develop extensive safety and security options, including direct collaboration with Hong Kong authorities to support planning activities and for implementation in November 2022.
Some Frequently Asked Questions from members have been reported by the Australian and New Zealand Membership Delegation,
- Are any major events continuing/cancelled in Hong Kong?
- GGHK reported on a series of events that are continuing through the troubles, including the Pride Run on 1 December 2019 – 300 participants registered, Hong Kong Rugby 7’s and cultural events such as Clockenflap (music festival; 70,000 attendees). Rugby 7’s 40,000 people over 3 days in April 2020, > 50% from overseas held in Hong Kong Stadium, same as planned for GGHK Opening Ceremony. Hong Kong Rugby has full support from World Rugby with regular meetings between World Rugby, government, police, and sponsors.
- Are there any actions that you expect that could help relieve the troubles?
- Although denied by Beijing authorities, the UK Financial Times has reported that consideration is being given to replacing Carrie Lam as Chief Executive, GGHK anticipates that this is likely in the near future.
- Any key dates to watch out for?
- November 24th the District Council elections in Hong Kong, January 1st is New Year with normally large scale celebrations in Hong Kong, Taiwan Elections in January will be observed closely to assess voter sentiment, Chinese New Year in January 25th with 2020 is the start of the new cycle of the animal zodiac which is important in Asian culture. The year of the Rat is the first in the rotation of the 12 zodiac signs, meaning that a Rat year is a year of renewal.
- What news sources do you rely on? How does our own perception affect our views?
- Hong Kong is a major hub for a number of media outlets. News from the region often gets reported globally. It can depend on the amount of local news (e.g. Brexit) where you are based as to the prominence of news about Hong Kong. How we receive this news is impacted by our own experience and perceptions of the world. The presentation illustrated news articles of the same event in HK that were reported in two separate papers with completely opposite reports.
- What is the current Travel advisory level for Hong Kong?
- When GGHK submitted their bid, Hong Kong held a Level One travel warning. As a result of the current situation this has been lifted to a Level Two, but HK remains a much safer travel destination than many other large cities. GGHK is communicating with the Consul Generals to understand the advisory levels being issued by national Governments e.g. US State Dept; UK Foreign Office. We are also using the services of International SOS a pay-to-use service used by many international businesses to keep their employees safe when away from home.
GGHK and FGG are keeping a close watch on the current situation along with other protests as they are developing worldwide. However, they remain optimistic for the future of the event,
“Hong Kong is an opportunity to make a positive political statement by doing something that is fun and non-threatening and which can change peoples’ perspectives of what it means to be LGBTQ+,” said Gene Dermody, a participant in all ten previous Gay Games.”
By Dirk Smith