Christof Wittig Previews Hong Kong 2022
This month we sat down with Christof Wittig, Director of Fundraising and Partnerships, from the Gay Games 11 Hong Kong, to discuss the 2022 edition set to be held in Asia for the very first time. We are proud to be supporting the Gay Games with driving commercial opportunities and pushing forward the diversity and inclusion agenda across the region.
Tell us how you came to be involved with Gay Games.
I’ve been a big supporter of the Gay Games 11 Hong Kong (The Games) since the very beginning. I was based in Hong Kong running my company Hornet when the Gay Games bidding started. Naturally, I was closely following updates and was ecstatic to know that Gay Games was coming to Hong Kong in 2022. In 2018, I had the opportunity to even take part in the 10th edition of Gay Games in Paris and was genuinely amazed and impressed by the power of the community in organising such a meaningful event.
When the position as Director of Fundraising and Partnerships came up, I knew I wanted to be part of this incredible journey to bring The Games to Hong Kong and to be a part of this historical moment!
Gay Games will be coming to Asia for the very first time – what does having the Games in Hong Kong mean to you?
I split my time between my residences in San Francisco and Hong Kong, the cities which respectively hosted the very first Gay Games in 1982 and will be hosting the next edition in 2022. For me, The Games 2022 is a wonderful opportunity to carry forward this power of sports and community in an entirely new context.
Just like how the very first Gay Games in 1982 helped to make San Francisco the most important LGBTQ+ city on earth, I’m confident that The Games in 2022 will leave a huge mark in the history of LGBTQ across Asia. I am so proud to be part of The Games. One day when LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion become more prominent across Asia, I know I will have made an impact during the process.
It was announced that iconic global brands, Marriott Bonvoy and YouTube, are the first Platinum Sponsoring Partners for the 2022 Games. What opportunities does this bring to GGHK’s partners?
We’re excited to have Marriott Bonvoy and YouTube partner with The Games. It is easy for brands to talk about diversity and inclusion values and produce glossy statements, but they can take it to a whole different level when aligning their brand and customer experience with the values of The Games – participation, inclusion and personal best. Brands like Marriott Bonvoy and YouTube are authentic stewards for the principles of diversity and inclusion – something which is of paramount importance to consumers, especially the younger generation, as study after study in the West and East have shown.
Our partnership with Marriott Bonvoy also allows the brand to engage and develop a series of activations throughout the entire customer journey, from the moment someone decides to join The Games in Hong Kong, to becoming a loyal member of Marriott Bonvoy in the long run.
We encourage other sponsoring partners to benefit from these trail blazers and discuss the various options available.
Given the pandemic’s impact on live events, how do you foresee the 2022 games playing out, and what (if any) scenario planning have you had to do?
Over the past year we have held deep discussions with representatives from the travel and hospitality industry, and different government departments, on this matter. While it is never easy to predict the travel restrictions of every country, the consensus is that by early 2022, the residents of many territories in the world will be free to travel with the help of vaccine passports and other forms of vaccination status records.
We constantly monitor the various scenarios for an international mega-event like this with the help of our partner Control Risks. In any case, we have a full contingency plan in place that anticipates many risk scenarios including Covid.
What exciting things can we expect from the GGHK 2022 in Hong Kong?
Lots to look forward to at The Games in 2022! We’re expecting 12,000 participants to participate in 36 sporting events over nine days, in venues all over the beautiful city of Hong Kong – from swimming, dodgeball and dragon boating to esports, trail running to ballroom dancing! There will also be Opening and Closing Ceremonies, a Festival Village, Arts & Culture events with daily performances, a Gala Concert, LGBTQ+ art exhibitions, and a variety of events to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Gay Games.
The social and conventional media echo will be huge. This is a life changing event for 12,000 participants and 75,000 spectators who will be telling their stories, amplified by our partner YouTube, as well as a long list of media outlets. This is a unique opportunity for brands to become part of an authentically earned media narrative, something that is difficult to achieve in less historic, repeated, and commercial events.
To this day, I still get goose bumps reliving the moment in Gay Games Paris as I was welcomed by a crowd of more than 30,000 people. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience, so don’t miss out!
About Christof Wittig
Christof Wittig is a serial software entrepreneur and investor. Currently he is Founder and CEO at Hornet Networks, the world’s gay social network with over 30 million users, and Managing Partner at Strive Capital. Christof also serves as President at the LGBT Foundation and as Director of Fundraising for the Gay Games XI in Hong Kong in 2022.
German born and raised, he splits his time with his husband Juan between San Francisco and Hong Kong. Christof is an avid runner and triathlete and has been competing in various endurance events for over a decade.