The Gay Games are set to kick off in Hong Kong on Friday, the first time the international sporting event is being held in Asia, despite some local opposition and fears over political freedoms.

The event, which features both LGBTQ and heterosexual athletes, will see 2,381 people compete in sports including football and badminton — as well as Hong Kong dragon boat racing and mahjong — and aims to promote diversity through sport and culture.

"We all need this platform where it doesn't matter who you are, how you identify. We all come together in this culture of respect and acceptance," event co-chair Lisa Lam said at a news conference on Thursday.