The eighth international Gay Games gets underway Saturday in Cologne, Germany, even as the next iteration has come under tighter scrutiny.

Expected to perform during the games' opening ceremony at RheinEnergie Stadium will be gay icon Taylor Dayne and Swedish Idol winner Agnes Carlsson. Matthew Mitcham, the 22-year-old Australian that wowed at the Olympics in Beijing when he stole the gold from the Chinese, will speak the oath of the athletes. Germany's openly gay foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, will preside over tonight's celebration.

Dayne will perform a new song to benefit the games. Facing a Miracle was selected by a team of jurors in search of an anthem for this year's competition.

“I am happy to perform for people who want to convince through athletic performance and stand up for equal rights for homosexual people,” Dayne told reporters Saturday at a press event.

“Many gays and lesbians supported my career from the beginning,” Carlsson, who'll be performing her top hit Release Me, said. “It's a great honor for me to perform at the opening ceremony.”

Mitcham said he's “only had positive experiences” since coming out gay.

“In the past I thought being gay is a weakness, but I didn't experience any disadvantages after my coming out,” the Olympic gold medal winner said.

The road to Gay Games 2010 officially kicked off in February in San Francisco with the start of the International Rainbow Memorial Run. In the run's first leg, New York activist Brent Nicholson Earle carried a rainbow flag on a symbolic run from the AIDS Memorial Grove located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park to Kezar Stadium, home of the first Gay Games in 1982.

The flag has traveled around the globe to reach its final destination and lead the parade of athletes tonight.

The week-long celebration of sport is expected to draw over 10,000 athletes from more than 70 countries competing in over 35 sporting events.

Gay Games returns to the United States in 2014, when Cleveland will host the Olympic-style sporting event. Irregularities in Cleveland's bid prepared by the Cleveland Synergy Foundation have threatened the group's participation in sponsoring the event. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Friday that Synergy representatives were noticeably absent from the city's delegation traveling to Cologne. However, in a statement released Friday, the group said it was sending a four-man delegation to receive the Gay Games' flag during the games' closing ceremony.