Inside Lines: Olympic Stadium in bid to host Gay Games of 2018
Sunday 16 December 2012
After the triumph of London 2012, another global event may be heading the way of Stratford's Queen Elizabeth (née Olympic) Park. The World Athletics Championships are booked for 2017 – assuming the revamped stadium is ready – but the following year could see London host the Gay Games, the world's largest sporting event for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes. The Government and funding agency UK Sport, committed to bringing major sports events to the UK in the wake of the Olympics, will back a bid to host a Games likely to feature 12,000 competitors from over 70 nations. Competition is expected from Paris, Amsterdam, Orlando and Limerick to stage the quadrennial event, which originated in San Francisco in 1982 and has been held on eight previous occasions. Cleveland, Ohio will host them in 2014. The proposed use of 2012 facilities, especially the Olympic Park and Aquatics Centre, will make London formidable contenders. "We are exploring our options but we would hope to use as many Olympic Park facilities as possible," says London's 2018 bid chairman, Alex Davis. Bids must be in by the end of February for an event originally due to be called the Gay Olympics before legal action from the International Olympic Committee forced organisers to drop the word Olympics. Designed to promote inclusion, the Gay Games are open to professionals and amateurs and feature most Olympics sports, including football.
Thomas breaks ice again
One sports figure who has come out, the former Wales and British Lions rugby star Gareth Thomas, will be breaking the ice again next month. He is to compete in ITV's Dancing on Ice under the mentoring of Torvill and Dean. The hosts will not be the only Olympic gold medallists in the show – the Hull boxer Luke Campbell, the 2012 Olympic bantamweight champion, has also signed up, along with triple world gymnastics champion Beth Tweddle, 27, who won Olympic bronze. Like Anthony Joshua, the Olympic super-heavyweight champion, the 25-year-old Campbell has several pro offers but is putting them on ice too.
Excelling at Excel
London's ExCeL, scene of many heartwarming Olympic moments for GB in the summer, makes a quick transition from last night's boxing to stage tonight's Sports Personality of the Year awards – or SP 2012, as the BBC are now calling the event. The bookies reckon only Jessica Ennis can put a spoke in Bradley Wiggins's wheel, but could the public vote yet spring a surprise? The Paralympic movement has orchestrated support for athlete David Weir and the swimmer Ellie Simmons. In a year in which equality was sport's buzzword, I have a hunch the top three will be a male, a female and a Paralympian, probably in that order, although my vote, based on personality and achievement, would go to boxer Nicola Adams, for bravery in the ring and for coming out in this newspaper.
Survey unfit for purpose
I am always suspicious of the type of expensive sports surveys regularly undertaken by Sport England, and it seems hard to accept their recent claim that 15.5 million people over 16 take part in sport at least once a week, apparently some 750,000 more than this time last year. That's one in three of us. As Victor Meldrew would say: "I don't believe it!" Look around you – surely that's wishful thinking? Unless the survey includes walking to the pub or the supermarket.
Load of more Maloney
Six months ago Britain's busiest boxing promoter, Frank Maloney, was ready to throw in the towel when Sky axed his shows. But he kept punching, and his heavyweight David Price became British champion and the hottest prospect in the land. Now the new free-to-air TV channel operated by lads' mag Loaded (Sky Ch 200) is to screen his small-hall shows, while Price remains a star on BoxNation.
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