A lesser Outgames starts in a month

Toronto jocks at the 2006 Outgames.

Toronto jocks at the 2006 Outgames.

The second Outgames starts a month from today in Copenhagen, with Opening Ceremonies on July 25. The multisport event will be a cozy affair, with about half the athletes of the 2006 edition in Montreal and far fewer than Copenhagen organizers had hoped for.

The number of registered athletes is a "bit more than 4,000," with another 1,200 people signed up for cultural events and a gay and lesbian conference, Ole Udshol of the Outgames told Roger Brigham. There will be between 600 and 700 people from the U.S. Brigham, long active with the Federation of the Gay Games and also a journalist, posted these latest numbers on our Discussion Board. It follows a report he had last week in the Bay Area Reporter.

When we last wrote about the Outgames registration two months ago, organizers were still hoping for 6,500 registrants. This is below the 8,000 target they had set, which was also about the number that attended the first Outgames in Montreal in 2006.

Four sports have been cut -- rugby, kayak, pool and shooting -- while others like wrestling might be more exhibitions than competitions, Brigham says. On the other hand, swimming will be well represented since the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics is holding its world meet at the Outgames.

Outgames officials say their financial goals are attainable and add that "everything is working very smoothly."

Copenhagen is an awesome city and I find it hard to imagine anyone having a bad time at the Outgames. However, this event will be a pale imitation of the Gay Games, which routinely gets 10,000 athletes, and of the original boasts of Outgames organizers from Montreal, who promised 18,000 registrants before going bankrupt, leaving $5 million in debts, including $2.2 million to dozens of vendors (disclosure: Outsports is among those vendors).

Antwerp, Belgium, is set to host the 2013 Outgames, but already the city says it can't pay a $209,000 deposit to the Gay & Lesbian International Sport Association (which licenses the event) because of the global recession.

I have advice for Antwerp - save your money. The Outgames have already run their course, and only came about because a group of hustlers from Montreal broke away from the Gay Games to start their own event. The 2006 Outgames was a financial disaster, and the 2009 version (while being run by a new group that has been above board) has seen its registration goals fall victim to the recession and to a sense that one international multisport gay and lesbian sporting event is enough.

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