“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,” said the organizers in an email they sent to participants.
The opening ceremony was scheduled to take place on Saturday at the Fillmore Miami Beach.
LGBT athletes from around the world were expected to take part in the games that were scheduled to take place through June 4. OutGames Miami organizers in their email said a human rights conference that began on Friday in Miami Beach 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,” said the organizers.
Miami is the first city in the U.S. to host the OutGames.
Steve Rothaus of the Miami Herald reported local elected officials and tourism officials lobbied to bring the games to South Florida. The New Miami Times reported the city of Miami Beach spent at least $200,000 to promote the OutGames.
The Miami Herald reported Miami Beach officials in recent months grew increasingly concerned that game organizers were unable to meet their fundraising. It obtained a memo from City Manager Jimmy Morales on Thursday that said OutGames officials had not paid a $5,000 deposit for event permits and they owe the National Hotel, which is the games’ official hotel, a “substantial amount of money.”
“The city of Miami Beach is deeply concerned to hear that the World OutGames has decided to cancel their opening and closing ceremonies and sports programming, with the exception of soccer, aquatics and country western dance,” said the city of Miami Beach on Friday in a statement.
“City staff has worked consistently for the past several months to assist the event producers with special events planning and permitting; fundraising efforts; relocating events to low or no cost venues; assisting with local partners to provide support and access; and providing financial support to cover police staffing costs,” it added. “As a lead sponsor of the event, the city also waived all related special event and permitting fees for this event and provided cash sponsorship to the OutGames.”
The first World OutGames took place in Montreal in 2006.
The Federation of Gay Games organizes the Gay Games. The Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association licenses the World OutGames.
The Washington Blade will provide further updates as they become available.