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Saturday, August 1, 1998 Published at 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK


Turning the stadium pink

Thousands watched the Gay Games parade of boats

The BBC's Richard Quest: a vast colourful event
Amsterdam has rolled out the pink carpet to celebrate the opening of the Gay Games.

It is expected to attract some 200,000 visitors over the next week, who are expected to spend $75m.

[ image: An excuse for a party]
An excuse for a party
The gay games got off to a flying start on Saturday with a colourful opening ceremony and concert by transexual pin up, Dana International.

The city whose name is synonymous with extravagance and tolerance lived up to its reputation as it became the venue for 15,000 gay competitors to paint the town pink and welcome the fifth gay games to Amsterdam.

Richard Quest: All about playing music loud and wearing as few clothes as possible
There were gay milkmaids, gay sailors, even gay Vikings thronging the city's canals and streets for the opening of an event which started in San Fransisco as an alternative to the Olympics.

Revelers clad in everything from wedding veils to leather G-strings danced and sang on hundreds of multi-colored boats sliding through the canals.

Gay Games spokesman Paul van Yperen: Thousands attending
Gays and lesbians have been progressively integrated into Dutch culture over the past two decades.

Their latest landmark was the legalisation this year of civil marriage by lawmakers now leaning toward granting homosexuals the right to adopt children.

Handbag throwing

[ image: All sorts of sports]
All sorts of sports
Fifteen thousand athletes from 66 countries are taking part in the games, half again as many as the mainstream Olympics.

The games even have their own alternative events.

Gold medals will be handed out for such "sports" as handbag-throwing, oil-wrestling and the 200m dash in high heels.

The Amsterdam Gay Games are the first to be held in Europe.

They were last held in New York in 1994.

Sydney, the site of the Summer Olympics in 2000, will have the first southern hemisphere Gay Games in 2002.

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