Wednesday, March 08, 2017

World OutGames Miami 2017 [UPDATED]

This summer thousands of participants, spectators and thought leaders from around the globe will converge on Miami for World OutGames IV. The World OutGames will take place starting Friday, May 26 and end on Sunday, June 4, 2017. This 10-day event will bring to life more than 450 events across three areas: Sport, Culture and Human Rights. Learn more about participating, volunteering and attending World OutGames Miami by visiting their official website here.

UPDATE | Friday, May 26, 2017 

World OutGames Sporting Events Canceled Amid Financial Turmoil

The long-planned sporting and cultural event known as the World OutGames, a 10-day LGBT-themed event advertised as a spectacular gathering of athletes from around the world, unraveled Friday about 24 hours before the opening ceremonies.

Organizers announced that the opening and closing ceremonies, along with nearly all of its sports events, were canceled due to financial issues. The bombshell revelation came via a short Facebook post from the event’s board of directors Friday.
“It is with deep regret that due to financial burdens, World OutGames must cancel its sports programming and Opening and Closing Ceremony with the exception of soccer, aquatics and country western dance,” reads the text. “The Human Rights Conference and cultural programs will continue as planned. We thank everyone who has supported the effort and apologize to those who will be impacted by this difficult decision.”
And with that, the high hopes for the 10-day event were dashed as athletes from around the world streamed into Miami, ready to compete only to learn the games were canceled. Some arrived before the announcement, and others found out mid-air.

“This just displays bad management that has a serious financial impact on many people,” said Peter Clancy, a businessman from Belgium who was two hours away from Miami when he learned the news online. He was going to compete in track and field, and his partner was due to run in the half-marathon.

“Last minute notice also shows a complete lack of respect for the participants and especially those of us traveling from other continents,” he said.

Rowen D’Souza spent about $3,000 traveling from Australia to play tennis in the games. He told the Miami Herald he was unimpressed with the flow of information from OutGames organizers through the process.

“The communication has been poor from the start,” he said. “I suspect they knew there were problems but did nothing.”

The OutGames is supported and hosted by LGBTQ groups and allies and billed for years as a large scale celebration of diversity through sports and social events. Tourism leaders and elected officials lobbied to bring the OutGames to Miami — the first time the event is hosted in the U.S. Local government agencies have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars sponsoring OutGames.

Now, it’s unraveling due to financial problems that were first hinted at in recent months.

Officials at Miami Beach City Hall expressed concern for the OutGames ability to meet financial goals in memos to commissioners outlining slower-than-expected fundraising. Organizers publicly reassured elected leaders that fundraising was on track and the show would go on.

The city is demanding an audit of OutGames’ books.

A memo from Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales late Thursday signaled a rapidly worsening situation. OutGames officials had not paid a $5,000 deposit for necessary event permits. According to the memo, OutGames owes a “substantial amount of money” to the National Hotel, the host hotel for the event.

Hat Tip: Kenneth in the 212