Just two months away from the May 26 opening ceremony of the 2017 World Outgames, organizers tell Outsports they have just over 2,000 athletes registered. The Outgames currently lists 30 sports being held.
While the number of participants is well below the Outgames’ own projections, organizers are committed to ensuring a good experience for all attendees. They also promise the event will not be canceled.
“Miami will welcome everyone with open arms for an amazing 10 days of sports, human rights and cultural offerings,” said Outgames spokesperson Michael Goodman. “We remain passionate and committed to changing people's lives, and we will.”
Organizers had been claiming they would have over 10,000 athletes for the event. Last September an Outgames spokesperson said they were still aiming for at least 8,000 athletes. One attendee who spoke with Outsports yesterday said he had still been expecting at least 10,000 athletes at the event, since that was the last number cited by the Outgames.
In recent years, other LGBT quadrennial events have struggled to attract the registration numbers of past events. While the Gay Games in New York City in 1994 boasted about 14,000 athletes, Cleveland’s Gay Games in 2014 had just about 6,000. The 2013 World Outgames in Antwerp, Belgium, attracted about 5,000 athletes, according to reports.
The Sin City Shootout, an annual multisport LGBT event held over a January weekend in Las Vegas, has claimed to attract more than 7,000 athletes each year for the last several years.
With only two months before the event, these Outgames won’t come near those numbers.
Organizers of the next Gay Games, to be held in Paris in August 2018, told Outsports they currently have just under 2,000 registrants.
Last year the North American Outgames were canceled due to lack of funds and registrations. Goodman assured Outsports that the Outgames will not be canceled. However, some sports without a sufficient number of participants will need to be jettisoned.
“Just a handful of sports, which have low registrations, like netball, are being removed to ensure a healthy competition,” Goodman said, adding that all decisions to cancel sports will be made by April 1.
Goodman claimed that all sports not canceled will feature at least four teams or individuals competing.
At least two events are expected to be well-attended. International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics is holding its world championship at the Outgames. The host club, Nadadores of South Florida, said the aquatic events — swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, Pink Flamingo — currently have about 500 registrants.
“With a diverse group of athletes from Hong Kong, Greece, Germany, France, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and of course the United States and Canada, we expect the aquatic events to be the most successful events at OutGames 2017,” said Nadadores spokesperson Diego A. Suarez.
Also hosting its world championship at the Outgames is the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association. Expecting about 400 athletes on 22 teams, this year’s world championship looks to more than double the size of the tournament held last year in Portland, Ore.
“Coming off the success of the Portland championship in partnership with Nike and Adidas, IGLFA now is in the final stages of preparation for the Unity Cup in Miami,” said Gus Penaranda, president of IGLFA. “Hosting over 21 teams from every corner of the globe, IGLFA hopes to have great competition, responsible social conferences and most of all celebrate the 25th anniversary of the IGLFA organization.”
Between aquatics and soccer, the two sports look to represent over a third of all the athletes headed to Miami for the Outgames. National and international organizing bodies of various other sports told Outsports they have not been working with the Outgames on their events and will not be holding their world championships in Miami.
Also part of the Outgames is a human rights conference and cultural program. Goodman said planning and preparation of all of that is going well.
“We have been announcing much progress with the Conference, too, and will soon announce an amazing cultural event that will be a huge draw,” Goodman said.
You can find more information about the Outgames, and register as a participant, at their Web site.