The 1st world Outgames start this weekend in Montreal

Troy Espera | July 27, 2006

MONTREAL — The first World Outgames, a celebration of sport, culture and human rights, is set to begin this weekend in Montreal and promises to bring more than 12,000 athletes from around the world.

The athletes will be arriving in Montreal over the next few days for the Olympic-style event for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes.

"We're very excited because it's a real international event... there are lots of volunteers and people who worked since years and years to organize those games," Louise Roy, the Outgames' CEO told Canadian news network CTV.

The Games are part of The International Conference on LGBT Human Rights, where 2000 people from around the world will discuss LGBT human rights�from essential rights to global issues. CTV reports that close to 5,000 volunteers have registered.

"If I was a little younger I would be participating but I found another way to participate by being a volunteer," says Isabelle Ruiz.

Volunteer Marco Lopez told CTV he was "a little bit nervous but I'm excited as well... I think it's going to be a very good experience."

The expected 12,000 to 13,000 participants is below the initial estimates of 16,000, organizers say. Many attribute the lower turnout to a delay in the issuance of visas for the international athletes.

The government blamed the delays on the crush of people from abroad seeking to enter Canada during the peak tourist season. But Opposition Liberals in the Canadian Parliament suggested that the government purposely dragging its feet. Many of them have criminal records�the result of laws in their home countries against homosexuality and social protest.

However, organizers are predicting the Games will be a big success.

"I think that we're the best prepared for an event like this that's ever been delivered for the gay and lesbian community," said Mark Tewksbury, the Outgames' co-president to CTV.

According to World Outgames� Website, athletes will compete in some 35 events, such as swimming, track and field and volleyball. Several cultural events are also planned.

The Games will run from July 26 to August 5 and will take place on the heels of the Gay Games VII held in Chicago from July 15-22. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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Official schedule of the 1st World Outgames Montr�al announced



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