August 12, 2010 at 1:26 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
2014 Gay Games could vault to D.C.

Set in Germany, the 2010 Gay Games concluded Sunday. The next event in 2014 is tentatively slated to occur in Cleveland. (Photo courtesy of Gay Games)

Leaders of an international LGBT sports group, meeting last weekend in Germany, reaffirmed their earlier decision to keep the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland, according to sources familiar with the deliberations.

But the General Assembly of the Federation of Gay Games kept open the option of moving the event to Washington, D.C., if Cleveland fails to meet a set of conditions by Dec. 15, including the creation of a new gay-run organization to produce the games, sources said.

The General Assembly took that action during a closed “in camera” session of its annual meeting Aug. 8, sources said, following the end of the 2010 Gay Games.

That action came 10 months after the FGG selected Cleveland over D.C. to host the 2014 Gay Games and one month after the FGG revoked the license it awarded last year to the Cleveland Synergy Foundation, a non-profit LGBT group, to produce the quadrennial event.

The FGG’s ouster of Cleveland Synergy was reportedly caused by the foundation’s failure to meet its licensing agreement in a number of areas, including financial accountability.

Officials with the Cleveland Synergy Foundation have not returned repeated calls seeking comment. FGG officials have also declined to disclose details as to why they determined Synergy has failed to meet its licensing obligations.

LGBT activists in Cleveland joined city officials there in expressing a strong desire to keep the games in Cleveland and have taken steps to put together a new proposal for producing the 2014 Gay Games. But so far, only non-gay sports groups in that area have emerged as having the capability to produce an event involving thousands of athletes and spectators.

In announcing last week that they planned to keep the games in Cleveland, FGG officials said through a spokesperson that they disagreed with an interpretation of FGG rules by the D.C. LGBT sports group that lost its bid to hold the games in Washington.

Officials with Metropolitan Washington Gaymes, Inc., which was designated the runner-up bidder for the 2014 games, said they believe FGG rules hold that the games should go to the runner up and its host city if the winning bidder fails to fulfill its licensing obligations and responsibilities.

During the General Assembly meeting in Cologne, Germany, FGG officials reportedly said the rules allow the group to keep the games in Cleveland as long as a new entity selected to produce the games meets all of the requirements established for doing so in the original bidding documents.

But one of the conditions imposed on Cleveland, according to sources, is that it must come up with a new LGBT-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that exists for the sole purpose of producing the Gay Games.

Another condition is the new entity must be up and running, meet all of the FGG requirements to operate the games and have a signed license agreement with the FGG in place by Dec. 15, 2010, sources said.

They said the FGG General Assembly agreed that if the new Cleveland organization is unable to enter into such a licensing agreement by the designated deadline, FGG would take steps to move the games to D.C., the runner-up city. The decision reportedly is based on the assumption that the D.C. host organization was still interested and capable of producing the 2014 Gay Games.

Vince Micone, president of Metropolitan Washington Gaymes, and Brent Minor, head of Team D.C., one of the Gay Games-affiliated groups that’s part of Washington Metropolitan Gaymes, said last week that their respective groups would be willing to discuss any offer or proposal brought forward by the FGG.

“We’re reluctant to comment because we haven’t received any official communication from anyone,” said Minor on Tuesday.

But he noted that D.C. officials remain supportive of the Gay Games movement and its leadership. He said he’s “certain” that the apparatus that Metropolitan Washington Gaymes assembled last year in its bid for the 2014 games can be put back together in “short order” should the FGG approach D.C. to host the games.

According to one source, another wrinkle over Cleveland Synergy Foundation surfaced at the FGG General Assembly meeting when word came that Cleveland Synergy might be considering filing a lawsuit against the FGG to reverse the decision to revoke its license. The source said FGG officials have lined up pro bono legal counsel to respond to such a lawsuit and are confident their side would prevail.

The same source said representatives of the General Assembly sympathetic to D.C. chose not to introduce a resolution to move the 2014 games to D.C. before giving Cleveland a chance to form a new LGBT host organization because there was little support for such a resolution.

“It would have failed miserably as many Americans and Europeans are of the current mindset that we need to continue the goodwill that was just established by the Cologne games, and a change while the city of Cleveland so enthusiastically wants these games would incur distrust and ill will in the LGBT sports community,” the source said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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