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Game on in Darwin for the Asia Out Games in 2014

GSN is already in training for a trip down under to Darwin for a major multi-sport tournament

Game on in Darwin for the Asia Out Games in 2014
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For serious athletes like ourselves, it’s always important to have clear goals and objectives, to know exactly what you need to train for, and when you need to be at your peak.

The Asia Out Games that will be held in Darwin in 2014 seems far enough away that our gold medal aspirations seem almost achievable.

We spoke with Olli Berst, chairperson of Darwin 2014, to find out what competitors can look forward to at the Asia Out Games.

Why are the Asia Out Games being held in Darwin in 2014?

When the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA) asked for expressions of interest from cities to host the third Asia Pacific Out Games, a Darwin Out Games bid and organizing committee was founded in August 2011.

In December 2011 a 49 page bid document was submitted to GLISA and in May 2012 Darwin was selected as the host city.

How many participants are you expecting to attend?

We expect about 1,100 participants for the sports events and another 1,000 visitors for the cultural program and human rights conference for the one-week event.

Where will participants mainly come from?

Participants will mainly come from Australia and New Zealand. Given the close proximity to Asia and the personal contacts we have with people in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, we believe that we will see a stronger participation of Asian participants compared to the previous Asia Pacific Out Games.

How many sports will be part of the Asia Out Games in Darwin?

Seventeen sports will be part of third Asia Pacific Out Games. Dragon boating, roller derby and basketball will be included in the games for the first time. The other sports are: athletics (track and field), aquathon (swim and run), badminton, dance-sport, golf, hockey, lawn bowls, softball, squash, swimming, tennis, tenpin bowling, touch football and volleyball.

What other cultural and social activities will be part of the Asia Out Games in Darwin?

We haven’t defined a program yet. In our bid document, we suggested activities like: a celebration of 20 years ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’, sunset cruises around the harbor, indigenous culture like traditional and modern dance and art plus the exciting Sista Girls drag queens from Tiwi Islands, various party venues in Darwin’s city, a deckchair cinema festival, a women’s only place and much more.

Of course we will have an opening ceremony and the games will be capped off by the closing ceremony where we say goodbye to new friends and promise to meet again at the next Out Games event.

What makes Darwin an attractive destination for the world’s LGBT sportspeople?

Darwin is a modern and tropical capital city set on a harbor twice the size of Sydney’s.

In 2011, Lonely Planet listed Darwin as a Top 10 World City, describing it as offering a ‘pumping nocturnal scene, magical markets and restaurants, and world-class wilderness areas just down the road’.

The Northern Territory, as an inclusive society, values and embraces cultural diversity and promotes gender equity as a right for all Territorians. People from more than 100 nationalities call the Northern Territory home and our broad cultural diversity is something to be proud of.

Why is it important to have LGBT-specific sporting events such as the Asia Out Games?

The Asia Pacific Out Games includes three components: sports, culture and human rights.

Unfortunately in many countries within our region, LGBT people still do not enjoy equal human rights nor acceptance, with many having to live secret lives due to the fear of discrimination, family or societal rejection and the possibility of violence. The Out Games provides the opportunity for a celebration of LGBT lives as well as to bring international attention on the human rights issues facing LGBT people within our region.

Is the city of Darwin supporting the games?

We have received visiting support and speeches from the City of Darwin’s Lord Mayor and two aldermen at various events held since we submitted our bid document in December 2011. One of the aldermen witnessed the signing of the license agreement between GLISA and Darwin 2014 by placing her signature next to the executive boards’ signatures.

Who are the people that are running the Asia Out Games in Darwin?

Darwin 2014  is a non-profit organization and run solely by volunteers. An executive board and sub-committees have been founded. We expect during the event that we will have over 400 volunteers supporting the games.

What are some of the challenges in running and event like the Asia Out Games?

Given the Out Games are run on a voluntary basis it is quite challenging to find the right balance between volunteer work, our full-time jobs and our private lives.

As chairperson I’ve been able to embark and venture into projects I haven’t done before which I see as an exciting challenge.

Read more from Gareth Johnson

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