Hong Kong is still safe and protests will not stop the 2022 Gay Games as day-to-day life is unaffected, say organisers

South China Morning Post 發布於 2019年09月20日03:09 • Mark Agnew mark.agnew@scmp.com
  • Past events, like Sars, illustrate Hong Kong's ability to bounce back from crisis, say organisers
  • Images of violence give rise to concerns, but the reality in Hong Kong is safe on a day-to-day basis, they say
The opening ceremony of the Gay Games in Sydney, 2002. The Games are held every four years, and in 2022 will be in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

The 2022 Gay Games will not be affected by civil unrest in Hong Kong, the organisers have said. The city has been rocked by more than 100 days of anti-government protests that started as opposition to a controversial extradition bill, but day-to-day life remains unaffected, said Linda Kovarik, director of marketing at local organising committee Hong Kong Gay Games.

"If you're in North America, you don't know what it's like here. You see these images, they look at them and think it's like Beirut in the 1980s, but they don't see what Monday is like," Korvarik said, following articles in US publications saying the Games are in "jeopardy".

Korvarik has lived in Hong Kong for more than 30 years.

"Based on what we've seen, our gut is telling us we'll be able to put on the Games," she said. "Based on Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, a 2003 epidemic), and how Hong Kong dealt with the credit crunch, and even how quickly things blow over in mainland China, we think Hong Kong will bounce back quickly."

Co-chairpersons of Gay Games Hong Kong bid team Dennis Philipse (left) and Benita Chick attend the Gay Games briefing. Photo: Dickson Lee

The Gay Games is a sporting and culture event hosted every four years, designed to promote the LGBTQ community, diversity and tolerance. It will be held in Hong Kong in November 2022.

Dennis Philipse, the man responsible for winning the bid to host the Games, echoed Korvarik's view.

Demonstrators march along Hennessy Road during a protest this month

"It's about perception. If you've never been to Asia, you don't know what it's like here," he said, adding that the protests do not pose a threat to safety if one is not directly involved in them, and at worst it might mean a delayed bus.

"Hong Kong is recognised as one of the safest cities in the world and even with protests it has remained so," Philipse said. "We are proud of the city that we will be showcasing and even more so of its people for their commitment to peace and inclusion."

The Out in Hong Kong Tennis Open is being held on October 4-7 2019 with 86 participants, 48 of whom are travelling from aboard. The tournament is going ahead, with only one person having dropped out, and Philipse pointed to it as an example of how the protests are not disrupting plans.

Articles suggesting the Games will be cancelled also said sponsors would bail out. Korvarik said "brands want to drive a purpose and show how they can change the world. I don't think we'll be abandoned".

From heartbreak to bringing the Gay Games to Asia for the first time

Philipse noted it is more than three years until the Games kick off.

"We think it's premature to think about alternative host cities for the 2022 Games," he said. "Federation of Gay Games and the Hong Kong Committee continue to stand by the decision to host the Games in Hong Kong."

An article in The Bay Area Reporter quoted one potential participant saying a last-minute cancellation would be "a catastrophe for LGBT international sporting events in general".

Philipse said: "It's always good to have a plan B as a host city anyway, irrespective of what's going on here. We have our own contingency plans too."

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