The Tel Aviv Games is quickly becoming one of the most popular regional LGBTI sports event and Israel’s biggest LGBTI events. The biennial event was first hosted in 2017 and coming off the heels of the 2018 Gay Games in Paris, the Tel Aviv LGBT Sports Club is already seeing more registrations and anticipation for the 2019 event set to take place March 27th-30th 2019.

The Tel Aviv LGBT Sports Club is working to “establish high profile sports teams under the values of participation, acceptance and personal best.” Their mission is modeled off of the Federation of the Gay Games, which has a similar charter. The Israel delegation at the 2018 Gay Games in Paris was the biggest ever for Israel with 45 athletes representing across multiple sports.

Israel is one of the most accepting and tolerant countries on the Asian continent for LGBTI people, with Tel Aviv commonly known as “The Gay Capital of the Middle East.” The Tel Aviv games are working to help build representation of LGBTI people from the middle east in sporting events such as the Gay Games. In addition, they are working to broaden the international appeal of the LGBTI friendly community in Tel Aviv by working to make the Tel Aviv Games into a truly international event.

Besides Israel, the middle east isn’t known for being LGBTI inclusive and with the recent rise in anti-Semitism, the Tel Aviv Games is working to increase representation of LGBTI people from the middle east in sports. While also encouraging more people to visit Israel and learn more about the city’s LGBTI history of inclusion and acceptance.

The 2019 Tel Aviv Games features an expanded sports program, with swimming, tennis, basketball, soccer, volleyball, running and same-sex dancing all being contested. In addition, the social events will include an Opening and Closing Party, the #TAG2019 Official Dinner, City Tours and Bar Hopping through Tel Aviv’s local LGBTI community. The final day of competition will include a special “Pride Run” 5k and 10k that’ll run through the streets of Tel Aviv Yafo

The 2017 Tel Aviv Games had 300 participants, with the hosts of the 2019 Tel Aviv Games expecting over 500 including teams from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States that have already registered. The event is growing quickly, with the 3rd edition planned for 2021. For more information about the Tel Aviv Games and to register, visit www.telavivgames.org/

By Dirk Smith