Glasgow is set to bid to host the 2020 LGBTI Euro Games, which have been staged in various European countries since 1992 to show mutual respect, tolerance and support equality – as well as encouraging more LGBTI people to participate in sport.
The Scottish city, which hosted the 2014 Commonwealth games and – more recently – the Homeless World Cup – is seen as an ideal venue for one of the world’s largest LGBTI sporting events by many, including the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, David Grevenberg.
This year’s games in Helsinki attracted 4,500 athletes from 40 European nations, in addition to approximately 10,000 spectators. With the popularity of the Games increasing, the 2020 event could be bigger still, allowing Glasgow the opportunity to showcase what it has to offer and to help build awareness of LGBTI issues.
Mr Grevenberg believes Glasgow’s bid can use the infrastructure created for the Commonwealth Games two years ago – meaning the LGBTI Games could essentially be part of the wider Commonwealth legacy. In a statement he said: “Sport has a hugely important social role to play, connecting people from around the world and inspiring us to celebrate together. Major sporting events give us the opportunity to create defining moments that build awareness, advocate our values and showcase positive actions that build pride and prosperity.
“Thanks to a truly memorable Commonwealth Games in 2014, I know only too well that Glasgow is a uniquely welcoming and friendly city with a proud community at its heart.
“It is the perfect place to host the EuroGames and I wholeheartedly back this bid.”
Any bid would need to be submitted by 31st December, but work on it has already begun with Scottish Commonwealth Games swimmer Martin Cremin among those backing it. Scottish MPS Margaret Ferrier and Stuart Macdonald are also supporting the bid.
The EuroGames bid is being fronted by LEAP Sports Scotland, a charitable organisation aiming to improve LGBTI participation in sporting activity. Academic research has shown that LGBTI people often feel excluded from sport – something that LEAP hope the Games can help rectify.
Hugh Torrance, LEAP Sports Scotland’s executive director, told The National: “There is still work ahead to consider the feasibility, secure funding and finalise proposals, but with the final deadline for the bid being December 31 we are keen to start raising the profile of the games and develop dialogue with stakeholders across the country – LGBTI people who will want to take part and compete, the general public who might want to take part, volunteer or support the games, and sports clubs and associations, organisations and businesses who will work towards making the games a huge success.”
Torrance is also hoping to be able to expand not only the Games’ appeal, but also participation through increasing the number of sports. While the Helsinki Games hosted 16 distinct sports, he envisages that a Glasgow Games could feature 23 – including athletics, swimming and ballroom dancing.
There are no qualifying standards for the EuroGames, meaning participants of all standards are welcome.
Dusseldorf is to date the only other city expressing an interest in bidding, but Torrance is optimistic Glasgow will be successful. He believes Glasgow has shown its ability to embrace inclusivity in recent years, not least through the messages communicated at the Commonwealth Games and with the presence of Pride House in the city for both the 2014 Games and the Homeless World Cup.
Torrance added: “It is achievable. During the Commonwealth Games we sent out a powerful message that here in Scotland we really support equality, we really stand up for human rights. The games have never been in the UK before but they have been held in Germany a couple of times. We are in a strong position.”
Support for the campaign can be expressed by print out “a virtual jigsaw piece” from the LEAP Sports website and tweeting your picture to @LEAPSports using the hashtag #BuildTheBid