A right little Athlete's Village! As gay sportsmen gear up for the EuroGames in Munich this
summer, OutUK's Adrian Gillan checks the form, plays the field and asks:
"Oh come on!" woops Sascha Falk Mrotzek of EuroGames Munich. "Cheer-leading and line-dancing
are as serious as swimming, track and field or basketball. It's sport and passion!
is a serious sporting event - people take part in order to compete and maybe win. It is
also a political statement too as we fight for the integration of groups against whom
people still discriminate today. And whatever, nothing should prevent people from simply
enjoying themselves when they come here to lovely Munich."
27 sports; 5000 competitors; 20,000 spectators - from wresting and line dancing to
chess and cheerleading: it can only be the ninth EuroGames.
Held annually - except
every fourth year when the international Gay Games are held - this year's event
will take place at the magnificent 1972 Olympic Stadium in Germany's third largest
city. With a budget in excess of half a million pounds - mostly coming from participants'
entry fees, the rest from sponsors and ticket sales - the event is volunteer-led
and doesn't expect a profit, at least not a whopper one.
"The sporting standard is generally very high," insists Mrotzek. "We do indeed
have professional athletes who enter, although EuroGames is officially known as
a mass sporting event for amateurs. We always emphasize that the event is for
everybody - the name 'EuroGames' indeed lacks any gay reference. On the other hand,
ninety percent of participants will in fact be LGB."
And there'll be lots of action off the track too, with competitors and spectators
enjoying a festival of culture, mingling gaily in the central area around Sendlinger
Tor and Müllerstrasse so brimming with gay venues that even the beer's queer. But
behind the feats and cheers, beyond the bustle and bonding, the back slapping and
stabbing, there are some serious questions to be answered. Isn't there a danger the
Athlete's Village might become yet another gay ghetto?
Defends Mrotzek: "As long as LGB athletes have to hide themselves within 'straight'
sports clubs and competitions, there will be a need to convene LGB sport events like
EuroGames. But that's not Munich's endgame. We are determined to be extremely public
at the Olympic site. We want to attract many straight participants and spectators,
to be visible, make contact and therefore stimulate integration."
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EuroGames IX takes place in Munich 24th July - 1st Aug 2004. Full details are at
www.eurogames.info. A special package giving you admission to all the events
and the opening and closing ceremonies costs EURO35 and you can get more details
from the Eurogames website. You can book gay-friendly hotels in
Munich at special rates through our partners