Chicago, IL -
Yesterday at a downtown news conference, Chicago Mayor Daley urged Chicagoans to attend the 7th Annual Gay Games from July 15-22.
"This is a very important event for our great city, and today I'm encouraging all our residents, and in the surrounding communities, to welcome our visitors to our famous Chicago hospitality," Mayor Daley said at yesterday's news conference at Roosevelt University.
The games -- the seventh held since the first in 1982 -- are expected to attract nearly 12,000 athletes from 65 countries. The upprecedented event will be held at 33 venues in Chicago and the suburbs. Opening ceremonies will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 15, at Soldier Field
, and closing ceremonies will be at 3 p.m. July 22 at Wrigley Field
"This is more than just an athletic competition," Daley said. "It's also an arts and culture festival. There will be music, drama, comedy, movies, lectures, art and photography exhibits at locations around the city. This is an opportunity for Chicagoans to see some fine athletes and some outstanding entertainment - and also to show off our city."
Daley also thanked the 359 Chicago area corporate, media and non-profit sponsors who have contributed more than $10 million in cash and in-kind sponsorships to the Games.
"We're very proud of the gay community in our city," he said. "Every quality-of-life issue, the gay community has stepped forward as great leaders, and this is another example."
Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, told the Chicago Tribune
that his organization will likely pass out literature at the opening ceremony but doesn't plan a protest.
The Illinois Family Institute unsuccesfully boycotted several corporate sponsors of the Gay Games.
Previous games have been held twice in San Francisco and in Vancouver, New York, Amsterdam and Sydney.