València has submitted its application as one of the 3 finalist cities, together with Munich (Germany) and Guadalajara (Mexico), to be the host of the Gay Games 2026, which are held every 4 years, and has affirmed that it wants to be “the light of diversity” and an example of tolerance, social rights and freedom. Besides its sporting infrastructures and the support from all the sports federations, the city is using the legislative framework that has given Spain equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, which is one of the most advanced in the world, as one of its arguments, according to several people attending the presentation this morning.
From 13th to 17th August, there will be an inspection of the city by the organisation, whilst the defence for the application will be in Hong Kong, there city where the 2022 edition was hosted, from 5th to 9th November; on the last day, the winning city will be announced from the shortlist of finalists. València’s application was submitted by the council, which is governed by the Compromís and PSPV-PSOE political parties, although it was the Spanish Government that initially suggested it, given its ability to organise sporting events “and due to the fact that it is a reference point for inclusivity”, the city councillor for sports, the socialist Pilar Bernabé explained. Gay tourism has become one of the biggest goals for cities for increasing their number of visitors due to its high purchasing power and carry-over effect.
The Gay Games will be held over 12 days and the data for the 2026 edition will be between 27th May and 7th June, during which 36 sporting disciplines will compete. There is expected to be participation from around 12,000 sports people and almost 100,000 visitors, with an economic impact for the city of around 135 million euros. Organised by the Federation of Gay Games (FGG), the event was founded in 1980 by Tom Waddell, an Olympic decathlete from the United States, and it was held for the first time in San Francisco in 1982.
They are known as a cultural and sporting event, without any discrimination by sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, nationality, ethic origin, political orientation, athletic ability, physical disability, age or state of health. Participation and improved personal performance triumph over scores and victories by country.
Before the last edition in Paris, the Games were held in Cleveland (2014), Cologne (2010), Chicago (2006), Sidney (2002), Amsterdam (1998), New York (1994), Vancouver (1990) and San Francisco (1986 and 1982).
The representatives from the LGBTQ+ Samarucs and Dracs sports clubs, which promote the initiative, recalled there being “LGBTQphobia” in sport and how at the Olympic Games in Rio only 0.05% of sports people made it apparent they belonged to this collective, as they believe that sport “is still a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ sports people”.
The presentation ceremony for València’s application at the Veles i Vents La Marina building also saw the participation of the President of the Valencian local government, Ximo Puig, the Minister for Education, Culture and Sports, Vincent Marzà, as well as the President of the València Government, Toni Gaspar, amongst other institutional members, presidents from several sporting federations and representatives from the business sector. The application also has the support of the Secretary of State for Sport, which reports to the Ministry for Culture and Sport.
Puig stated that “being the host for these games is about being part of the values for this collective and fighting for public freedoms and social rights. Seeing what is happening in Europe in countries like Hungary, visibility of the fight for decency is absolutely essential”.