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Want Vancouver to host the Outgames?

A steering committee of community members from the local queer sports and tourism sectors is hoping to bring the 2011 Outgames to Vancouver.

The Vancouver Pride Society supports the idea. Hosting the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association’s (GLISA) Outgames in 2011 would be “a fantastic way to keep Vancouver’s momentum post-Olympic games,” says Pride Society president John Boychuk.

“As Vancouver is growing —and on the heels of the Olympics —there will be venues and focus on the city to bring this here. It could be something fantastic that would showcase Vancouver as a sports and culturally diverse community.

“Why should Vancouver do this?” he asks. “Really, why not?” he replies. “We have the infrastructure. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to continue to showcase how global we are.”

It would also give gay and lesbian athletes a chance to shine after the 2010 Olympics, he adds, since many gay and lesbian athletes are not recognized in mainstream meets and never get the chance to stand proudly as out athletes on the podium.

Boychuk is on the steering committee considering making a bid next August for the 2011 Outgames, which will be awarded by GLISA in 2009.

The committee’s next move: to open the question up to public consultation to determine if enough support, including financial support, exists to host to the North American Outgames in Vancouver. The combined sports and human rights conference would take place 10 days before the Pride long weekend in 2011.

“An event this size requires a lot,” notes Boychuk. “To host it requires corporate and small business, sports, political, community and individual partnerships.”

The steering committee will host a community forum on Fri Dec 14 at the Wall Sheraton Centre at 5 pm to gauge the level of support for a bid. Boychuk hopes to see a significant turnout and hear from people who support the bid, as well as anyone who might have any concerns.

The first World Outgames were held in Montreal in 2006 and amassed a sizeable debt, losing more than $5 million. Calgary hosted the first North American Outgames earlier this year in April to generally good reviews from participants and organizers alike.