Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018
 

Bombing, assault mars Outgames

NEWS


jocktalkroger@yahoo.com

Dean Koga. Photo: Courtesy Seattle Frontrunners
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A Seattle runner was injured Tuesday afternoon when explosive devices were thrown at athletes and exploded at the start of the 4x200 meter track relay at the World Outgames 2 in Copenhagen – the second violent incident since the opening of the Outgames last weekend.

Dean Koga from Seattle Frontrunners was in the starting block when two bombs were thrown from behind a wall onto the track at the new Østerbro Stadium, home to a major track and field event for the first time. According to members of the Seattle team, the bombs "exploded upon impact and resulted in Koga sustaining injuries to his right hand from flying material. We had had four Seattle Frontrunners at the starting blocks at the time and 16 on the track, but all others are unharmed, however, a little shaken up."

Koga was transported to a local hospital where medical workers removed impacted plastic material from his hand and stitched the wound. He was later released. Koga, 58, competed on Wednesday and won the gold medal in the 200 meter race in his age group.

Another bomb was thrown about 45 minutes later, according to athletes at the meet, and police arrested a 31-year-old Danish man who was seen running from the scene, according to the athletes.

The athletes elected to continue their meet after a 90-minute delay. "All agreed to stop would be to give in to this hateful person," the Seattle team reported, and added that the number of uniformed and plainclothes officers appeared to increase following the incident.

"This is a reprehensible incident," said Seattle Frontrunner Kelly Stevens, who did not attend the Outgames. "It shows that even in what appears to be the safest gay-friendly areas, we still face risks. The gay sports movement and the gay rights movement are not done."

In another incident, three men from England, Sweden, and Norway in town for the Outgames were reportedly punched and kicked Saturday night in the Vester Voldgade and Studiestraede gay bar area of the city and police are holding two men, aged 28 and 33, in custody and treating the incidents as hate crimes, according to the UK Gay News.

The Copenhagen Post reported that witnesses reported the suspects yelled "homo pig" at the three men before attacking them as they returned from the opening ceremony of the World Outgames on Town Hall Square.

Henrik Vedel of the Copenhagen Police told the Post the two alleged attackers have criminal records and are believed to have been under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time. The suspects reportedly said they could remember nothing about the incident.

Hate crimes in Denmark can result in longer jail terms if it is proven that a person was motivated by sexual orientation, religion, or race.

World Outgames CEO Uffe Elbaek, praised the "exemplary" police response and said the attack showed "what homosexuals around the world risk if they are exposed, and it shows why an event such as World Outgames is necessary."

The Federation of Gay Games issued a swift response.

"We condemn the violent attacks against LGBT athletes and spectators during the Outgames," the federation said in a statement. "This week we are all Copenhageners and we stand in solidarity with Outgames organizers and the very gay-friendly people of Copenhagen against this kind of violence. Our thoughts are with the runner injured by the explosive devices at the track stadium today and the people who were attacked. We are pleased to hear that all injuries have been minor and that runner will still likely be able to compete. We extend our full support to all the participants at the Outgames."

The final report issued by World Outgames organizers before the start of this year's event noted that Denmark lagged behind other Northern European countries in terms of gay acceptance.

"Compared to Sweden, Denmark is at least five to 10 years behind," the report said. "There are very few serious positive advertisement campaigns which directly address and therefore reflect the needs and interests of the LGBT community. There are far too many examples of Danish companies using 'the homosexual' as a comical element or direct source of ridicule in their advertising."






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