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Vancouver wins 2011 North American Outgames

Tourism group estimates spinoff at $12 million

Credit: Photo by Paul Caputo,

Vancouver will host the 2011 North American Outgames, the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association of North America (GLISA) announced Oct 27.

It’s a project that’s been in the works for about 18 months, says John Boychuk, president of the Vancouver Pride Society and celebration chair of the Vancouver Outgames.

A coalition of local gay and lesbian activists, athletes and tourism experts first publicly discussed the idea of bidding for the Games last December.

Boychuk hopes Vancouver will be able to capitalize on the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and use some of its venues for some Outgames’ events.

GLISA North America president Greg Larocque says the Games are a monumental celebration of sports, culture and human right.

“We feel this is the ideal place to hold the 2011 games, and it’s another example of how Vancouver is at the forefront of international tourism,” he says.

“We’re delighted to be able to keep up the post-Olympic momentum,” Larocque adds.

Boychuk expects the Games to attract more than 5,000 participants.

“Tourism Vancouver estimates the economic impact to be well over $12 million,” Boychuk says.

To get to that point, though, Boychuck says Vancouver’s Outgames has a budget of about $2.9 million at this point.

He says 75 percent of that will come from registrations. The balance will be from sponsorships and grants, he says.

He says the province has agreed to kick in between $300,000 and $400,000, which he says will cover outreach, development and infrastructure.

The North American Outgames is a continental event occurring every four years. The first competition was held in Calgary in Apr 2007.

The Outgames welcome all participants, regardless of sexual orientation.

The Outgames are different from the Gay Games.

The seventh edition of the Gay Games was originally planned for Montreal in 2006, but the Federation of Gay Games removed its sanction after failing to agree with Montreal organizers on the size of the games, and moved those games to Chicago instead.

That led to the creation of the world Outgames which made its debut in Montreal that summer. The next world Outgames is set for Copenhagen in 2009.

An independent auditor hired by the Quebec government, which invested $3 million in the Montreal Outgames, stated in 2006 that that city’s Games racked up $5.3 million in debt.

Vancouver’s Outgames will kick up its opening night heels Jul 26, 2011 at the University of BC’s Museum of Anthropology.

For five days, the Games will focus on sports, human rights and cultural celebration.

The sporting events will reflect the unique nature of Vancouver’s environment including mountain, marine and land events, organizers say.

Boychuk says events range from hockey to golf to badminton to ballroom dancing.

Closing night celebrations will take place under the sails at Canada Place.

A concurrent Human Rights conference, co-chaired by Mary Anne Bobinski from UBC and Michael Bach of KPMG Canada, will take place over three days.