WASHINGTON — Despite being named a finalist for the second time in eight years, Washington, D.C. went home empty-handed when the 2022 Gay Games were awarded to Hong Kong on Monday.
The games, held every four years like the Olympics, are actually a bigger sporting event thanks to a lower threshold for entry.
It’s predicted that the Games would have attracted 12,000 to 15,000 athletes and 80,000 to 100,000 spectators from 70 countries, providing an economic impact for D.C. of more than $100 million.
Had D.C. won the bid, Mayor Muriel Bowser had pledged more than $2 million in infrastructure upgrades while utilizing many of the city’s existing athletic facilities.
D.C. United’s new stadium at Buzzard Point was expected to be a focal point if D.C. was selected, including as the site of the Gay Games Opening Ceremony. The stadium is scheduled to be ready for use by the team in 2018.
The D.C. Armory and Walter Washington Convention Center were also expected to be major hubs in the proposal, along with the university facilities at the Kettler Iceplex, University of Maryland, George Washington University and Gallaudet University.
The D.C. bid included some celebrity firepower, with honorary chairs Paul Tagliabue, former NFL Commissioner, and Billie Jean King, a tennis legend and outspoken advocate for women’s equality and the LBGTQ community. On the political spectrum, it includes former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and the pledged support of Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
“Our bid proved that Washington, D.C., is strong not simply because we are diverse, but because we celebrate our diversity and inclusion,” Bowser said in a statement after the decision was announced. “As the world questions how the United States will position itself on the global stage, it is incumbent upon all of us to continue showing the world who we really are.
“This bid represented our D.C. values, which represent the very best American ideals: all are created equal. We congratulate Hong Kong, and it is our hope that the 2022 Gay Games spark reforms to bring about equality for our LGBTQ friends there too.”