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International sports event

The EuroGames have entered the books as the largest international multi-sport event in Utrecht that is organized entirely by volunteers. Five hundred volunteers cared for nearly 3,000 athletes and some 17,000 fans who flooded the city from June 16 to 19, 2005.

Gay games

EuroGames are actually the European LGBTI+ Olympic Games, but the IOC does not allow you to use ‘Olympic’. However, the formula is very similar: a selection procedure with bidding to determine the location, an opening and closing ceremony, official competitions and a cultural and social programme. The EuroGayGames, as the then mayor of Utrecht Annie Brouwer-Korf consistently called the games, arose in line with the worldwide LGBTI+ Olympic Games, Gay Games, which started in 1982 in San Francisco and takes place every four years. In the three years between the Gay Games there are EuroGames.


The initiative for the EuroGames originated in The Hague. The aim was to support gay and lesbian athletes in their coming out, to increase awareness of their sport among the general public and to strengthen the network of gay and lesbian sports clubs in Europe. The first two EuroGames – in The Hague in 1992 and 1993, were small-scale. Some 300 to 500 athletes from the Netherlands and neighboring countries gathered there. After that, the event quickly grew to around 4,000 athletes from all European countries and far beyond. The annual general meeting of the European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation / EGLSF, to which some 200 queer sports clubs in Europe are members, decides which city will host the games.
In addition to Utrecht and The Hague, there have been EuroGames in Rotterdam (2011) and Nijmegen (2022). Utrecht was the first ‘small’ city to put out a bid. Usually they are European metropolises such as Berlin 1997, Paris 1998, Barcelona 2008, Stockholm 2015, Helsinki 2016, Rome 2019 and Copenhagen/Malmö 2021. But many Dutch people will especially remember the Amsterdam Gay Games from 1998 with 14,000 participants.

Benefit of the doubt

Utrecht had a chance to make the selection because Lou Manders, chairman of gay swimming club Nat Utrecht and active in EGLSF, discovered in 2003 that no cities had yet applied as candidates for 2005. It usually takes five years from the initial plan to implementation. but Utrecht did it in two years.
Six enthusiasts pulled the cart. The four-member board consisted of Gilbert Isabella (now mayor of Houten), Lou Manders, nightclub manager Jan Scheepstra and his partner Evert van der Veen. IT specialist Astrid Claessen and project leader Gerard Mollink formed the management. They were supported by mayor Annie Brouwer-Korf and chairman of the national sports umbrella organization NOC-NSF, Erica Terpstra.

Nine sports

Nearly 3,000 athletes took part in these 10th Eurogames. They came from 44 countries, a record that was not broken until ten years later by Stockholm. It wasn’t just Europeans. They had priority when registering, but participants from the rest of the world were allowed to participate if there was room. The participants won about 1,200 gold, silver and bronze medals.
There were competitions in nine sports: athletics, badminton, ballroom dancing, field hockey, squash, tennis, socker, volleyball and swimming. For the first time, field hockey was a competitive sport at the EuroGames. The Australian men’s team won against the Dutch. The national Dutch field hockey team played a game. In ballroom dancing, there were competitions for same-sex couples and for wheelchair dancers. The conservative international ballroom dance federation did not recognize either group as official participants. That creates a bond. The badminton players had to move to Hilversum because Utrecht could not accommodate all sports competitions, while the railway did not function because of a strike.

Queers and socker fans

It was tropically warm all weekend. The most exciting moment was Saturday night. Simultaneously with the EuroGames, the U-20 World Cup took place in Utrecht. The socker youth wanted to party in the city center, but all party locations were occupied by LGBTI+: the Final Fantasy Party. Thousands of athletes partied in different locations, each with their own music. The police commissioner feared a violent confrontation between socker fans and exuberant queers, but this did not materialise. The queers were now in the majority. The only report that came in that night was about a rowdy lesbian couple.

Sports and parties

With a hard-to-gather budget of just under eight hundred thousand euros, the organization needed all hands on deck, but it succeeded, including a grand opening in the Jaarbeurs with well-known Utrecht artists such as jazz singer Denise Jannah and an intimate closing ceremony in the old Tivoli on the Oudegracht. During the four days, the city was bursting with celebrations and cultural events.
The heart of the event was the EuroGames Village – just like every Midzomergracht Festival – on the Jacobikerkhof next to the cafes The Skyscraper (De Wolkenkrabber, now Kalff) and Body Talk. About 1,000 participating athletes found accommodation with private individuals in the city through a hosted housing program.

Come true fairy tale

The slogan of the EuroGames Utrecht was ‘Your fairytale comes true’. For the city, the participants and the organizers, their fairy tale did come true. Or as the mayor said in her closing speech:
“It seems incredible that an organization with only volunteers could organize such a large and professional sporting event in just a year and a half, but we did it.”
Evert van der Veen

External link


Part of the EuroGames 2005 website is still online: http://2005.eurogames.info/

The latest update of this window: May 03, 2023