After promising they would not cancel their event, the World OutGames has been canceled just days before the opening ceremony.
Event organizers sent this email to registrants and participants today:
“It is with deep regret that due to financial challenges, World OutGames must cancel opening and closing ceremonies and sports programming with the exception of aquatics, country western dance and soccer. 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.”
The writing has been on the wall for a while, despite organizers’ claims. Registration was at an abysmal level, less than half of any previous quadrennial LGBT multisport event in the last 25 years. There was absolutely no buzz for the event, and organizers inspired little confidence in the LGBT sports community.
As reported by the Miami Herald, the OutGames have not paid various permit fees, meaning they have known for at least days, if not weeks, that their events would not happen.
It is incredibly disappointing that organizers would guarantee the public they would not cancel the event, then wait until hours before the opening ceremony to cancel it. Athletes are now stuck with vacation time they may not want and travel costs they will never recover.
We are getting reports from various athletes who have been left out in the cold with the last-minute announcement. One team from Mexico talked to Steve Rothaus about the decision and cost to go to Miami.
Another athlete told Outsports "I've been traveling all day. I'm extremely upset and will demand travel expenses be paid."
What the OutGames just did to LGBT athletes is horrible.
While there will still be tournaments for soccer players, aquatics athletes and dancers, the news today will have one lasting international impact:
This is the end of the World OutGames.
After canceling their North American Games recently, this is a blow no organization can survive. While the OutGames have been trying to negotiate with the Federation of Gay Games to combine their events, the Gay Games can now move forward as the only multisport quadrennial games for the LGBT community.