Sport

Inaugural Asian Pride Games kicks off in Taiwan

Lily Wakefield April 30, 2022
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Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the Asia Pride Games in Taipei, Taiwan

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the Asia Pride Games in Taipei, Taiwan. (AFP via Getty/ Sam Yeh)

The inaugural Asian Pride Games began in Taiwan on Friday, 29 April, with a beautiful rainbow opening ceremony attended by hundreds of queer athletes.

The first Asian Pride Games, the successor to The Straits Games (TSG) which has taken place each year since 2002, was set to take place in 2021, but had to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However COVID-19 still had a considerable impact on the event.

While Taiwan has lifted its blanket ban on foreign tourists, it still imposes strict border controls, and so the games will be including 2,500 Taiwanese athletes, and just 250 foreign athletes, most of whom are Taiwan-based.

The opening ceremony was a joyful event nonetheless, with drag queens lip-syncing to pop songs, and performers singing and dancing with rainbow Pride flags.

Athletes stand with rainbow flags
Athletes stand with rainbow flags during the opening ceremony of the Asia Pride Games in Taipei. (AFP via Getty/ Sam Yeh)

The games’ 2022 theme is “stick together”, and organisers hope that by hosting the first Asian Pride Games in Taiwan, which became the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage in 2019, other Asian countries will follow in its footsteps.

Organiser and president of the Taiwan Gay Sports and Movement Association Yang Chih-chun told AFP that the rest of the continent remains a “desert for marriage equality”, and added: “We’ve worked very hard to make the event happen amid the pandemic as we hope that by hosting it in Taiwan, other Asian countries can see hopes for equality in same-sex marriage and in sports.”

Indigenous dancers perform at the opening ceremony of the Asia Pride Games in Taipei, Taiwan
Indigenous dancers perform at the opening ceremony of the Asia Pride Games in Taipei, Taiwan. (AFP via Getty/ Sam Yeh)

The games hopes to be as inclusive as possible, and will feature a range of cultural events alongside the sporting competition, including a Rainbow Fair, a Mahjong competition, cosplay runs and an LGBT+ equality exhibition.

For Taiwanese athletes, the Asian Pride Games will be especially significant, as they will be able to compete under the name “Taiwan”.

At international events, including the Olympics, Taiwanese athletes must compete under “Chinese Taipei” because of China considers Taiwan as its territory.

As Hong Kong is set to host the next international Gay Games, the Taiwan Gay Sports and Movement Association has opted not to send a team when the competition returns in 2023.

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