Registration for the 2009 World Outgames closed May 3, with about 4,850 sporting participants set to invade Copenhagen, Denmark, for the second-ever nine-day event, kicking off Saturday, July 25.
However, organizers expect the number of competitors to soar well beyond 5,000 through the late-registration period, which runs through June 15.
A little more than 10 percent of all registrants are from the United States. Organizers said Washington, New York and California have the most U.S. registrants.
Denmark has the most participants, followed by Germany and the U.S.
"We are proud of having participants from 84 different countries—it is a truly global event," said Ole Udsholt, the campaigns project manager for the Outgames. "We are especially proud of having participants from several of the countries in the Middle East, [ which are ] not the easiest [ places ] on Earth to be gay."
Swimming, running and volleyball have the most registrants. Kayaking, diving and wrestling have the lowest numbers registered.
"The sports with the most and the least [ registrants ] are just as we expected, so no big surprises," Udsholt said. "We are, at the moment, going through [ most ] sports—some will be cancelled, but it will only be a few. Until we have made the final decision and informed the participants concerned, I am not able to be [ more ] specific."
About two-thirds of the registrants are male, and registrants range from 18 to 70-plus in age.
"The plan the next three months is to recruit more participants—special focus areas will be our local market: Scandinavia and Northern Europe," Udsholt said. "We also will be doing special promotion in Southern Europe; they are always late in making decisions, and the number [ of registrants ] particularly from Spain and Italy has really gone up lately.
"Overseas markets like North America and Australia … Our [ plan ] here will be to work with the teams who have signed up already, making sure that they bring a full team. We will also be working closely together with IGLA [ International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics ] and GLRF [ Gay + Lesbian Rowing Federation ] , since they have a strong membership base, especially in the U.S. We will host the IGLA Championship and we will do what we can to ensure they get a great championship, both in terms of numbers but of course also in the way the tournament goes."
Udsholt added: "Having [ basically ] reached our goal of getting 5,000 participants by the end of April has given us all here in Copenhagen and our partners a real boost. We are very confident of that with this sign of support from the LGBT community. All over the world it is a very fragile situation in terms of the financial crises. Nonetheless, we have outstanding support and we're confident that the Outgames will be as fantastic as we have imagined right from the start."
Uffe Elbaek, the CEO of the 2009 World Outgames, was all smiles with the registration totals.
"I am extremely happy that, in these turbulent economic times, we have managed to get so many people from all corners of the world to come to Copenhagen this summer," Elbaek said. "There are participants from some of the countries where loving someone of the same -sex can mean imprisonment or even the death penalty, such as Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and India.
"The whole world is coming to Copenhagen, and we have worked toward our goal of ensuring that participants from places such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East have the opportunity, thanks to our special financial Outreach Program, which is targeted at [ the financially needy. ]
The Opening and Closing ceremonies will be held at City Hall Square.