First Published: June 2004
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.

A right little Athlete's Village! As gay sportsmen gear up for the EuroGames in Munich this summer, OutUK's Adrian Gillan checks the form and looks at the history of the event.

"We've certainly got bigger," reflects Pepe García Vázquez, General Secretary of the European Gay & Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) which mandates EuroGames as part of its pan-Euro LGB sports function. He casts back to the very first 1992 EuroGames: "We attract more participants and countries year on year. In Munich you'll see entrants from East and Central Europe, and from newer Southern states. We've also noticed increasing input from mainstream authorities, institutions and sponsors."

"Sport is still one of the most homophobic milieus," he regrets, "in some ways even more so than the army or church. Nevertheless we've noticed some encouraging signs. Many sports people are less afraid of 'coming out' now, and there is greater cooperation with some mainstream sports federations."

Vázquez disagrees that regions with the poorest sporting integration have, of necessity, the most developed LGB sporting networks: "To the contrary. The LGB sport organisations are the outcome of an active and visible community, so - unhappily - the poorer the integration, the lesser the network development. In that sense the EGLSF and individual LGB clubs have an important outreach role. Generally speaking, poorest integration is found in Southern, Eastern and Central Europe - although the situation is changing very quickly in some cases. In Northern countries the conditions vary from place to place, but one would have to admit that there is still a lot of work to be done by all parties everywhere."

EuroGames History

1992: The Hague, The Netherlands (I)
1993: The Hague, The Netherlands (II)
1994: Gay Games New York
1995: Frankfurt, Germany (III)
1996: Berlin, Germany (IV)
1997: Paris, France (V)
1998: Gay Games Amsterdam
1999: Manchester, UK (cancelled)
2000: Zurich, Switzerland (VI)
2001: Hannover, Germany (VII)
2002: Gay Games Sydney
2003: Copenhagen, Denmark (VIII)
2004: Munich, Germany (IX)
2005: Utrecht, The Netherlands (X)

"The EuroGames, other tournaments and each and every LGBT sports club itself all help boost visibility," Vázquez sides with Mrotzek. "That's surely the first step toward integration. Of course we can all dream of fully integrated sports throughout Europe, with no homophobia and full acceptance - and that must indeed be our goal - but, being realistic, we are very far from it just yet. And even if it comes, EuroGames needn't disappear. It can continue as a successful general sporting event, open to all."

Vázquez explains why the vast majority of EGLSF members are currently from Germany and Holland: "It is up to each individual club or association to decide to be listed on the EGLSF site or become a member. One of the reasons for the overwhelming presence of Dutch and German clubs is because it was LGBT clubs from these nations that pioneered sporting activities at European level. But clubs from other countries - notably Spain, Hungary, Slovenia and Bulgaria - are signing up. And it is encouraging that recently even a few more British clubs have even joined too! Let's hope we even get some new bids to host EuroGames soon from that side of the Channel soon!"

Indeed, the good old Anglo-Continental divide even seem to manifest itself at the queer sporting level. The 1999 EuroGames were scheduled to be held in Manchester but both the EGLSF and the UK organizers decided to suspend the celebration that year when preparations fell behind track. So, despite Manchester hosting EuroPride last year, the Brits still await their moment of EuroGames glory!

The EGLSF has recently withdrawn from being a member organisation of the international Federation of Gay Games, in sympathy with Montréal's recent departure. Vázquez is stoical about the schism that sees Montréal hosting its own EGLSF-backed international LGB sporting event in 2006, with Chicago now hosting the official 2006 Gay Games: "The feeling about all this cannot be but very sad. It's a great disappointment for the entire LGBT sports community that all involved couldn't reach agreement. The most positive way to understand the situation would perhaps be to consider it as a call for renewal and to be conscious of the diverse ways of conceiving a sports policy for the global LGBT community."

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EuroGames IX takes place in Munich 24th July - 1st Aug 2004. Full details are at A special package giving you admission to all the events and the opening and closing ceremonies costs EURO35 and you can get more details from the Eurogames website. You can book gay-friendly hotels in Munich at special rates through our partners Bookings.


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