2 min

Going for gold

Team Ottawa looking ahead to 2006

PREPARING FOR MONTREAL. Blair Johnston is organizing for the 2006 Gay Games. Credit: Colin Seaman

Ottawa’s team for the 2006 Gay Games in Montreal needs help.

Team/Équipe Ottawa (TEO) needs at least six new members to serve on its board of directors in order to keep the organization operating and prepare for the 2006 Games.

Since TEO’s successful participation in the 2002 Games in Sydney, five of its members have moved on. By the end of this year, three more will finish their work with the organization.

TEO, first formed in 1989 for the 1990 Vancouver Gay Games, has successfully prepared teams for the New York, Amsterdam and Sydney Games by hosting fundraising Pride Day barbecues, finding accommodations for athletes and setting up a website.

The close proximity to Montreal is also incentive for TEO to carry on. The preparation will be quite different from past games, and TEO’s board wants board members who are not only interested in the athletic and cultural events of the Games, but who have a vision.

“We want input from the community,” says Blair Johnston, a Gay Games participant and TEO member since its beginning. “We want people who have ideas about what local athletes might need in order to go to Montreal, and ideas for promoting the Gay Games.”

The Games began in 1982 with the ideals of “inclusion, participation and personal best.” Johnston says TEO’s primary goal is to keep the concept of the Games alive. “The Gay Games are real athletics,” Johnston says. “This is sport for the joy of sport.

“There is less of the testosterone-driven competition of the national sport,” says Johnston, noting that spectators and fellow athletes cheer each other on without regard to nationality or team affiliation.

And personal victory does not necessarily mean winning an event. Johnston relates the story of a hurdle jumper at the Sydney Games who tripped over nearly every hurdle. He carried on even after the others had completed the event, until he too reached the finish line. The spectators cheered. “Everyone is enjoying the fact that people are participating.”

Unlike the Olympics, there are no lucrative contracts awaiting star athletes after the Games. Instead, athletes gain lasting friendships and an understanding of the struggles of gay and lesbian people in other counties.

The Gay Games are also a lucrative venture for tourism. Before the Games had even been awarded to Montreal, Tourisme Montréal was already promoting the event, estimating that tourists would spend close to $150 million.

The 2006 Games will run concurrently with Montreal’s Pride festivities, Divers/Cité, from Jul 29 to Aug 5. The federal and Quebec governments have promised major grants of $1 million each for the Games in Montreal and the city has promised that its sporting and cultural venues will be available at no charge to the Gay Games.

That city’s tourism industry has also invested in the event. Tourisme Montréal and the Hotel Association of Montréal together have pledged $1.2 million. Montreal’s close proximity to the nation’s capital is also a potential boon for Ottawa. The Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority has the Gay Games on its radar, and is preparing to market this city in Montreal.


You can reach Team Ottawa by e-mail at, or by regular mail at P.O. Box 4103, STN E, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B1.