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The Mayor of London has sent good luck wishes to the athletes taking part in this week’s Gay Games in Chicago and the upcoming Outgames in Montreal.

The weeklong Chicago event, expected to draw nearly 12,000 athletes from 65 countries, started last weekend and will be staged in 33 venues across Chicago and the suburbs.

Participants will compete in 30 sports ranging from softball to dancesport, and swimming to tennis.

Gay British teams such as football club and reigning Gay Games champions, Stonewall FC will be at the event.

Ken Livingstone said: “Sporting events such as the Outgames and Gay Games unite communities and break down stereotypes by giving sporting opportunities to lesbian and gay communities.

“Best wishes to the London teams, like Stonewall Football Club and the Kings Cross Steelers, competing in these international games. London is proud of the great contribution of our lesbian and gay communities to the life of our city.”

Meanwhile Chicago’s mayor, Richard Daley, is hoping the Gay Games will create a supporting platform for the city’s application to host the 2016 Olympics.

The Gay Games run until this weekend, followed by the Outgames in Montreal from July 26 to August 5 2006, which will be opened by tennis star Martina Navratilova.