SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah could soon play host to another major sporting event, with a bit more targeted demographic.
Salt Lake City is a finalist to host the 2022 Gay Games, which hosts thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes from all over the world. Similar to the Olympics, the Federation of Gay Games said the event is held every four years in cities around the world. The 2018 Gay Games will take place in Paris.
Tourism leaders from Visit Salt Lake submitted a request to become a host city. They believe Salt Lake City can offer athletes and visitors a world class experience.
“It would give Salt Lake yet another opportunity to not only showcase our wonderful sporting facilities and venues but also help showcase the diversity of culture, the giving and welcoming of our community,” said Shawn Stinson with Visit Salt Lake.
Wes Heaps is with the Queer Utah Aquatic Club, also known as Quack.
The swimmer and water polo player has competed in three Gay Games. He’s training for the 2018 games in Paris.
“It is actually an amazing experience. The sense of community to see stadiums filled with tens of thousands of people there to watch a competition,” Heaps said.
Heaps said athletes won’t help but fall in love with the beauty of the Beehive State.
“Not only do we have all the great facilities and public transportation, but Utah itself is kind of a destination. People want to see,” the athlete said. “They want to come here and take place in the competition and go see Zion and see Moab.”
There are 11 cities bidding for the 2022 Gay Games, including: Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Cape Town, South Africa; Hong Kong; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Tel Aviv.
"This is a competitive and lengthy process, and we are grateful for all of the organizations’ hard work. The impact that the Gay Games has in host cities is incredible in terms of culture, sport, economic impact, history and most importantly furthering all matters of LGBT+ equality," Federation of Gay Games' Officer of Site Selection, David Killian said in a statement.
A decision on who will host the 2022 Gay Games will be made by October 2017.