October 6 - Paris' bid to host the 2018 Gay Games has been given a big boost by the presence of French Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron and double Olympic gold medal winning fencer Laura Flessel.
They headed the delegation from the French capital when Paris, along with rivals Limerick and London, made their final presentations at the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) Annual General Assembly in Cleveland today.
The final decision is due to be made tomorrow with the winner hosting an event that is expected to be attended by more than 8,000 athletes from over 70 countries competing in nearly 40 events.
It is Paris' second bid to host the Games, having been defeated in 2005 by Cologne for the 2010 edition, a defeat French officials blamed on the fact the campaign was running simultaneously with the race to find a host city for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
"In 2005, the schedule was against us because of the candidacy of Paris 2012," said Michael Geffroy, co-President of Paris 2018.
"Nobody could fight on two fronts, not even the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe."
Paris were also beaten in the campaign for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics by London, a rivalry that has been reignited during this candidature.
Fourneyron has been at the forefront of Paris' bid, hosting a reception when the FGG Evaluation Committee visited the city in July.
"For me, it was natural to support the Gay Games," she said.
Paris 2018, whose honorary President is Pierre Bergé, co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent Couture House, has also received the support of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) and more than 20 National Federations, including athletics, football and rugby.
The presence of Flessel, winner of five Olympic medals, including two gold at Atlanta 1996, is another sign of the high profile support Paris enjoys.
Fessel, who carried the French flag at the Opening Ceremony of London 2012 on what her fifth and final appearance in the Olympics, is a member of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Sport.
Other big name supporters of Paris' bid include world famous designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
October 2013: Marc Naimark - The Gay Games' mission is to promote equality in and through sport
October 2013: Limerick, London and Paris begin final bidding for 2018 Gay Games
July 2013: Gay Games Federation concludes inspection of London
July 2013: Federation of Gay Games inspectors finish Limerick 2018 visit
June 2013: Limerick to be first 2018 Gay Games candidate to have bid evaluated