Joe Clark: Accessibility | Design | Writing

GGVI bid comparisons: Notes


My Gay Games VI bid comparisons cannot be considered a scientific survey, nor was a rigid, systematic approach used. (I’ll explain why not in due course.) I read the five cities’ bid books and provided criticism, review, and commentary on specific points and on themes that made an impression on me. I deployed my journalistic skills, my knowledge of gay-sports topics and the Gay Games, and my specialized expertise (e.g., disability, language, design). The comparisons do not encapsulate the bid books, each of which runs about 100 pages in length. In the absence of, say, postings of the books on Web sites and distribution in hardcopy to interested parties, I did what I could to elucidate various details of the bids to the world.

Some other reviewer might have emphasized different points or drawn different conclusions or expressed different opinions of the same facts. That is the prerogative of other reviewers, not that there are any or ever could be under the current obsessively secretive, imperious, and clubby Federation of Gay Games régime.

This analysis did not take place with a scorecard or some kind of objective ranking system. Further, I did not necessarily discuss topics I thought were adequately taken care of. Bidders did not automatically garner praise for doing something basic right. However, they attracted criticism by doing something basic wrong, and even more criticism doing something complex wrong.

Further, the gamut of exact topics addressed is not uniform in every single comparison, a human limitation. So far this was my biggest project of any kind in 1997, and I did it all alone.

I was not biased in writing these analyses. I didn’t have it out for Montreal and Long Beach, and I didn’t start this task trying to find ways to make Sydney and Toronto look good. I called ’em as I saw ’em. I wasn’t biased, but I wasn’t objective, either. Journalistic objectivity is a myth. I believe I was not being unfair. Harsh at times, but not unfair.

All I could do, after all, was react to issues about which I was knowledgeable. Having lived in Montreal, and as a citizen of Canada who follows the news, I spotted their spin control and was honour-bound to identify it as such. Journalists, to quote Randy Shilts, have an obligation to say things publicly. The Toronto gender-parity nonsense fell into the same category.

Also, these essays consumed my life for about two weeks. For copyright reasons, I had to keep the excerpts “insubstantial” and well within the bounds of criticism and review. To discuss every little detail that the bidders got right would have added another week to the writing and research task and would have amounted to a recapitulation of nearly the entire bid book.

Is this a sporting event or not?

It was notable that few bidders emphasized sports. This cannot be too strongly emphasized.

Venues and staff

A severe obstacle in reviewing bids from afar is an inability to genuinely assess sport and cultural venues. None of the bids even bothers to submit legible photographs, though the in-person presentations in Denver in December might include such material. We simply have to take the bidders’ word for it on the suitability of venues. Only the site-inspection team (Susan Kennedy and, it is believed, one other person) has seen the real thing. They will evidently report in writing to the FOGG board, though boardmembers are unlikely to see the reports until they walk into the conference room in Denver.

I was, however, able to assess some Toronto venues by virtue of living here, and I did mention the ice rinks in Dallas, but that’s about all I could manage. It must be pointed out that all bidders skimped on explaining logistical details of the sort that star-crossed gay committees would find tedious – things like the exact driving distance betweeen venues. I read page after page about ethnic diversity, but ethnic diversity counts for diddly if you’re marooned in the middle of nowhere for the entire once-in-a-lifetime Gay Games after the host city failed to mention that your venue is an hour’s drive from the base hotel. All bidders, including Sydney, are negligent in this respect.

I would suggest that at least one Federation boardmember bring along full-sized maps of all the five cities and ask a rep from each of the cities, using a marker, to note where each and every venue is on the map. Only the locals will know about real-world traffic patterns (including bottlenecks like bridges, tunnels, and ferries), but having the venues’ relative locations staring you in the face will give you far more information about the viability of the city’s bid than any textual description.

Staff: We have to accept on faith the qualfications of committee members. Everyone knows that each committee is likely to have a few deadweight members, and we know, from bitter experience, that people who seem qualified at the outset of the organization of a Gaymes can reveal themselves to be overwhelmed and underqualified later on. I refrained from saying much about the Toronto committee in part because I don’t know most of them and am despised more than enough as it is.

Just to give readers at least some kind of information on staff, I’ve reviewed the curricula vitæ of all five bids and the essential qualifying characteristics of each bid committee boil down as follows. Each member of each committee has multiple talents. I am giving you my own reading of each person’s most significant or relevant talent based on what we are told. (“Specialty” means “main skills are directly relevant to their specialty task,” e.g., a doctor running medical care.)

Comparisons within comparisons

Parties vs. sports: What’s more important, shindigs or jocks? Let’s take a look at the budget alloted for parties of all kinds (including opening and closing ceremonies) as a ratio of budget alloted for sports (including facilities, staff, and medals, inter alia):

Sports for free: For which sports does each committee plan to charge admission?

Multi-venue sports: Which individual sports will have their meets and/or finals run at different or multiple venues? (In other words, could you be playing softball in one venue while your friends play in another place, possibly several blocks away, at the same time?) Remember, this is one of the nuts-and-bolts issues that will strongly affect quality of life and smooth operations at the Gaymes. Just imagine having to schlep across town to play one game and the next.

Let’s face it. Sydney wipes the floor with the other cities on this count.

Community and Federation responsibilities

The secrecy with which FOGG handled the entire bid process is outrageous. Even the Olympic Games, which requires a full crate of bid books to wow the notoriously corrupt tinpot IOC, makes cities’ bid materials public (though the materials may be available for viewing only in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in the respective cities). The Gay Games amounts to a commitment made by a few people to involve the entire queer community in their city in a ~US$9 million undertaking. Community consultation is incumbent on bid cities and the Federation. I attempted to abet that process of community consultation.

However, in a $9 million community event like the Gaymes, which has a history of never running really smoothly, it is more important to avoid mistakes than to praise competence. Hence my sternness. We have lots of time to fix mistakes, but the mistakes have to be identified.


Politely notify me if I have made a mistake or am missing some underlying facts that explain a certain issue.

Extracts copyright © 1997 Community Games 2002 Inc., Organizing Committee of the Long Beach/Los Angeles Games 2002/Long Beach Games 2002, Inc., Comité organisateur des Jeux gais–Montréal 2002 inc., Sydney 2002 Gay Games Bid Ltd., and Team Toronto, respectively. All rights reserved.

Posted: Circa December 1997 ¶ Updated: 2009.03.01

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