May 27, 2017 at 12:16 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Officials open ‘fraud investigation’ of World OutGames

transgender discrimination, gay news, Washington Blade

Local officials have launched a “fraud investigation” of the World OutGames over organizers’ decision to abruptly cancel the majority of its sporting events. (Photo by Marc Averette; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Local authorities have launched an investigation of the organizers of the World OutGames Miami over their decision to abruptly cancel almost all of its sporting events.

The Miami Herald reported the Miami Beach Police Department and the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office on Friday announced they will investigate “the potential misappropriation of funds.”

“Due to the potential misappropriation of funds, the Miami Beach Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office have conferred and are jointly opening a fraud investigation,” said Melissa Berthier, a spokesperson for the city of Miami Beach, according to the Miami New Times.

OutGames organizers on Friday said in an email that “financial challenges” prompted them to cancel nearly all of the sporting events associated with the games that were scheduled to take place through June 4. The opening ceremony, which was scheduled to take place in Miami Beach on Saturday, and the closing ceremony were also cancelled.

The Miami Herald reported the city of Miami Beach spent $200,000 to sponsor the OutGames and waved permit fees associated with events. The newspaper also said Miami-Dade County agreed to reimburse $18,000 in expenses.

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 Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association in a statement said it “had received repeated assurances that all events would proceed as planned.”

“The OutGames model is built upon the three pillars of sport, culture and human rights,” it notes. “Under the license agreement entered into with World OutGames Miami 2017 (the host city organization in Miami), they had sole and full responsibility for all planning and execution related to delivery of the event.”

Local LGBT sport groups, businesses rallying behind athletes

Thousands of athletes from around the world were expected to participate in the OutGames. Organizers announced their decision to cancel most of the sporting events as hundreds of them were traveling to Miami Beach.

Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce President Steve Adkins told the Miami Herald that his organization feels “terrible that this is happening.” He also noted local businesses and other members of Miami Beach’s LGBT community are “trying to do everything we can to create activities and entertainment options for all the wonderful visitors who have come to Miami and Miami Beach.”

Local LGBT sport groups are working to secure venues that would allow some of the cancelled sporting events to take place.

OutGames participants on Friday received free admission to the Miami Gay Men’s Chorus’ performance at the Colony Theater. The nearby Hotel Gaythering has offered them free drinks, sauna access and transportation to Haulover Nude Beach through June 4.

“We are deeply sorry the World OutGames Miami let you down,” wrote the Hotel Gaythering in a message to OutGames participants that it posted to its Facebook page. “Please know that our place is yours.”

The first World OutGames took place in Montreal in 2006.

D.C. is among the three finalists to host the Gay Games XI in 2022.

The Federation of Gay Games organizes the Gay Games. The Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association licenses the World OutGames.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • LesbianTippingHabits

    Why is it that LGBTQ activities always dissolve amid financial problems?

    • Sunny Weber

      Miami Beach has at least 2 LGBTQ organizations with exemplary financial stewardship; SAVE, in addition to spear heading real changes in elections, laws, and public education regarding equality, hosts dozens of LGBTQ activities throughout the year while staying in the black and Winter Party is so successful that it funds the National LGBTQ Task Force. I have volunteered for both groups and can vouch for their financial accountability as well as providing the most amazing activities for our community and the thousands who join us from around the world.

      • LesbianTippingHabits

        Thank you so much for this information. I join everyone in saluting both organizations and the strong LGBTQ and Allies community in Miami Beach.

        I was thinking of, among others, OutServe-SLDN, which imploded in Summer 2013. Its motto, “Stronger Together,” was also used by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016.

  • Bob Lemon

    this is an outrage! investigate these people! . Ivan Cano, executive director of Miami Beach Gay Pride, is working to bring the OutGames to South Florida. “It’s important because we definitely want to incorporate a stronger LGBT community in Miami Beach. It’s important to start bidding projects like this for our future,” said Cano, co-chair of the Miami Beach-Miami Sports & Cultural League. “Gays are not just about dancing. It’s about sports and its about culture.” Cano said World OutGames has never been in North America. “This would draw a lot of athletes from South America, Europe and the United States. From Asia, too,” he said. The sports league is working with University of Miami to provide sporting faculties and dormitory space if Miami Beach is awarded the OutGames, Cano said. “This is a Greater Miami project, no doubt,” he said. If GLISA awards OutGames to Miami Beach, the 10-day event would conclude on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 — overlapping busy Urban Beach Weekend. “That weekend is the one that makes the most sense for everyone,” Cano said. “We want to make sure the athletes are not overheating and that it’s not during hurricane season.” Miami Beach-Miami Sports & Cultural League members Ivan Cano, co-chair, executive director of Miami Beach Gay Pride Bruce Townsend, co- chair, social catering sales director, Centerplate at Miami Beach Convention Center Jerry Torres, treasurer-secretary, GT Entertainment Michael Gongora, Miami Beach vice mayor Steve Adkins, president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Bob Balsam, general manager of Global Spectrum, managing company of the Miami Beach Convention Center George Neary, associate vice president of Cultural Affairs, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau Cindy Brown, executive cirector of the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens Nick Tierno, general manage of Centerplate at the Miami Beach Convention Center Jose Sotolongo, executive director of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission Keith Hart, relationship manager for GBPS-American Express Richard Murry, president of The Murry Agency

    • Sunny Weber

      Ivan said it would be the first time in North America? Contradicts the article paragraph 12 (1 dangling sentence) that the first was held in Montreal 2006.

  • Sunny Weber

    Paragraph 4 says the City waved (sic) permit fees associated with events but paragraph 5 says they owe $5000 in event permits.

  • Gene Dermody

    If you want to follow this embarrassing development, and make sure our LGBT athletic community is protected in the future from these GLISA World OutGames scams, there a few blogs out there that are going to insure the FACTS of this FRAUD are kept searchable on the Internet.
    http://www.wikinow.co/topic/2006-world-outgames and https://glisa.blog/
    The best is yet to come with the Miami Beach Audit due sometime mid August.. Bidding Host Cities: Caveat Emptor do your due diligence on these organizations and people..

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