London hosting the Gay Games in 2018 will make a huge difference to the perception of LGBT people and sport, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.
Speaking exclusively to PinkNews.co.uk at a visit of the judging committee for the 2018 Gay Games in south-west London, the Liberal Democrat leader said: “Oh I think it can make a huge difference absolutely. I suspect that if we get the Games here in 2018 – [and] I very much hope the inspectors who I have met myself this morning do find in our favour when they make their decision this autumn – I think if we do get the Games here, I think you’ll find many, many more people will come and just join in with the event and come and look at the events, and become spectators [far more so] than we anticipate right now.”
A delegation from the Federation of Gay Games is currently in London visiting and inspecting facilities such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, which will be used to host the 2018 Games if the capital is successful in its bid.
The cities shortlisted alongside London are Paris and Limerick. The Federation will make its decision on 7 October.
High profile backers of the bid include Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson and House of Commons Speaker John Bercow.
Although last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games gives a boost to the capital’s chances, Alex Davis, chair of the bid said to PinkNews.co.uk: “It has definitely got to be more than just the Olympics not least because we are using a lot more local community facilities [compared to the 2012 Games] so we need to show that those are fit for purpose along with the Olympic Park, and we also need to show that we have an engaged community [who want to host] the Games.”
David Killian, co-chair of the Site Selection Committee for the Federation of Gay Games, said to PinkNews.co.uk that he was “really looking forward” to viewing the Olympic facilities and that the London 2018 bid team had shown itself to be a “big supporter” of the Gay Games.
But Mr Killian also stated that unlike the Olympics, the Gay Games were also about allowing smaller cites such as Limerick – where the population is 57,104 to compete in hosting an international sporting event.
“There’s a lot of cities that have looked to raise their profile on the international stage by hosting the Gay Games – an example is Cleveland they are hosting the Games in 2014,” he added: “it’s not a competition that is dominated by larger cities it’s all about whether you can put together a good bid.”