On Sunday 2 September the outdoor event, De Gordel The Belt, will take place as scheduled and according to tradition, dozens of hiking and cycling routes will see vistors leave from the four hubs in the Flemish periphery around Brussels: Sint-Genesius-Rode, Dilbeek, Zaventem and Overijse. According to FlemishMinister of Sport, Philippe Muyters N-VA, 2013 will however introduce a ‘new’ Belt. So far it’s not quite clear what it will look like. The Belt, which is 32 years old this year, was originally established to highlight the Flemish character of the Brussels periphery, giving it a political colour in addition to its purely sporting function. Now that Flanders has had its way with the split of the constituency Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde, it almost seems as if this event has become superfluous. Carla Galle, general manager of organiser Bloso, even mentioned in 2010 that the Gordel might become a white elephant after the B-H-V split.
It seems, however, that the changing political landscape is not the reason behind the new concept planned for 2013. “With or without B-H-V, it still remains important to maintain the Flemish character around Brussels,” says Muyters. The idea of ‘something new’ actually came from Bloso. The heavy financial and organisational burden associated with the event subdued enthusiasm around the organisation of the Gordel. In 2010, the jubilee edition cost around 500,000 euros compared to the usual 350,000 euros. Moreover the event, which offered 28 different routes during its heyday, requires a huge input from volunteers. To this end the ‘Nieuwe Gordel’ has been designed to spread the burden among organisers. Muyters also hopes to give the new version a more touristic character, which is why he has involved colleague and fellow party member Geert Bourgeois’ Department of Tourism in the organisation. The province Vlaams-Brabant and the tourist organisation Flanders Tourist Office could also assist Bloso. Meanwhile the Muyters cabinet sees the sharing of responsibilities amongst various players as “a positive advantage”.