MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Athletes from around the world have been left in limbo after the World OutGames canceled the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as most of the sports programming, at the last minute.
Thousands of participants and spectators were set to converge on Miami for World OutGames IV. The 10-day event combines sport, culture and human rights, and represents athletes from the LGBT community.
Many arrived in South Florida only to find out that the majority of the games will not be happening.
“It’s really disappointing because we came all the way down from Mexico City,” said Deniel Lopez.
The event promised to challenge participants physically, stimulate intellectually and enliven emotionally.
“It’s very hard for us,” said Hercules Gusmao. “In my case, I came from Brazil. I spent a lot of money, I stop my work over there to spend my time here with my friends.”
“I feel sorry for friends who are coming from Europe,” said Californian Richard Ammon. “I sent couple of messages off and I told them don’t come, but it’s too late. They can’t cancel now.”
At the Lowes Hotel, registration tables are set up and signs indicate the presence of the World OutGames — but nobody from the organization could be found. The only leadership around were volunteers.
“I came here because of what happened, the bad news,” said Robin Schwartz, the chairman of the LGBT Advisory Committee for Miami Beach, who heard about the cancellations and wanted to represent the LGBT community in Miami Beach. “They’re here and they are finding out the day they get here that it’s not going to happen. It’s also sad because so many people volunteered and are doing good work, and they are all made to look bad.”
The city of Miami Beach said it is deeply concerned and even offered assistance including waving city permit fees trying to convince the organizer to rethink the event.
“Telling them we see that you don’t have enough money, why don’t you pair down the number of events, perhaps even consider cancelling two or three months out,” asked Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales. “I think the most unfortunate thing here is that it took place last minute.”
The World OutGames, a non-profit organization, issued a statement:
“It is with deep regret that due to financial burdens, 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.”