Competition with Style: See Our Slideshow from the Copenhagen OutGames

Photo Credit: Martin Kristiansen
There has been much speculation over the last three years as to Copenhagen’s ability to host a successful World Outgames. The Danish were faced with significant challenges, including the world economic situation, high costs for tourists in Denmark driven higher by a strong Kroner, and the politics of those who will only support an FGG/Gay Games event.

Not only did Copenhagen rise to the challenge, but they pulled together an event that will be a model for many gay sport festivals in the future. Visible, celebratory, and efficient to a fault, these games were also fiscally responsible, starting with the decision to hold the opening ceremonies in the central town square rather than a costly stadium.

Aaron Robelo from Perth, Australia was notably impressed. “The concept for the opening ceremonies was brilliant,” Robelo declared. A bronze medalist in 10 pin bowling, Robelo added, “the atmosphere has been very exciting, and I’ll remember it forever.”

“This is definitely one of the best experiences of my life in terms of gay athletics,” proclaimed Michael Crosby of West Hollywood Aquatics, a well known water polo player and current co-president of International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics. Aquatic disciplines, including water polo, comprised nearly a fifth of all participants, and were hosted at a brand new, state-of-the-art facility near the city centre. “Everything ran very smoothly—Copenhagen kept things professional yet low key. It was a perfect balance,” Crosby said.

A total of 30 sport disciplines were organized over the course of 9 days, and reviews from all sports have been glowing, speaking to the management skills of the Outgames organizers in collaboration with the Danish sport federations. Luis Rodriquez from Mexico raved about the tennis competitions, held in the trendy neighbourhood of Frederiksberg. “The organization of the event was absolutely perfect. And the tennis itself was great—it was difficult, with a great level of competition.”

Dan Quon of Vancouver made a point of highlighting the quality of the athletes. “I was speaking with one of the Danish officials, and we both agreed that the results were as strong if not stronger than any other masters competition.” Sporting six medals from his pursuits in track and field, athlete Jean-Pierre Grasland from Paris was also enthusiastic about the quality of the Outgames. Having participated in every games (both Gay Games and Outgames) since Amsterdam in 1996, Grasland commented not just about the quality of the competitions held in beautiful Østerbro Stadion, but also about the creativity of the organizers in creating a city-wide cultural celebration. “The OutCities cultural festival was brilliant,” Grasland enthused. “It helped to make this the best games for me since my first games in Amsterdam.” In the biggest cultural project of the Outgames, the cities of Antwerp, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Tel Aviv and Arhus each presented a program featuring one week of artists and performers on the squares and open places throughout Copenhagen.

Tatjana Eggeling made a distinct point of highlighting the Human Rights Conference which was held concurrent with the World Outgames. “It was a great conference, especially in building relationships between the countries where living as an LGBT individual is easier, and those where it is not.” A researcher and activist in the area of homophobia and sport, Eggeling was adamant that holding the conference during the Outgames was an excellent marriage. “Here we have athletes who have come from countries such as Uganda, South Africa, and the Phillipines, they came to this conference and didn’t feel alone any more, and saw how much is being done to advance human rights globally.”

All participants that Realjock spoke with enthused about the openness of the city of Copenhagen, right through to the closing ceremonies, where hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets for the annual pride parade. The parade swelled in size by scores of athletes marching at the parade’s end behind the Outgames float. Even elderly Copenhageners were smiling and waving pride flags along the route, demonstrating a level of acceptance that has reached all generations of the Danish people. This enthusiasm, of course, extended to the hospitality of the local gay community, who volunteered in droves (more than 1500 volunteers were required to successfully host the games.) Icelandic swimmer Egill Ingvason made special note of their important role. “Everyone was so open, supportive, and friendly. This spirit infiltrated the competition as well—there was great spirit here.”

The second World Outgames may have come and gone in Copenhagen, but the afterglow will certainly linger for quite some time. “I’ll never forget this,” proclaimed local Danish athlete Kim Myklebust, while dancing down the street with two medals hanging from his neck. There will be much analysis and scrutiny in coming weeks and months as the final reports are released about the financial position about the Copenhagen World Outgames—but all will agree that it was a successful and joyous celebration of sport, LGBT culture, and human rights. Realjock congratulates the athletes and the organizers both, for a job well done!

In this photo, we see some of the more than 5500 athletes who celebrated in the vibrant opening ceremonies for the World OutGames on Saturday, July 25th. Dressed in team colors, adorned with flags and banners, the athletes marched down a giant runway in the middle of Copenhagen’s Town Square while thousands of locals watched and cheered. The athletes, such as the Belgian team pictured here with their trademark yellow umbrellas, were then treated to a lively show filled with Danish celebrities.

For more photos from the Games, and a sense of the excitement and enthusiasm, click through our slideshow on the following pages!