World OutGames cancels portion of 10-day event amid financial turmoil

Authorities focus on Miami Beach during Memorial Day weekend

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – As tourists descend on Miami Beach for Memorial Day weekend, World OutGames Miami canceled a portion of its 10-day event this year amid financial turmoil.

The State Attorney's Office and the Miami Beach Police Department were investigating allegations of fraud. 

"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 event's board of directors said in a statement. "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."

According to the event's website, World OutGames was supposed to bring more than 450 events to South Florida this year in the areas of sport, culture and human rights.

The decision to cut many of the events came as athletes arrived in Miami for the opening ceremony on Saturday. 

Many athletes learned of the news online when they tried to figure out their registration for the games. 

Some athletes said they heard the games were having financial trouble, but claim they were assured that the games would go on. 

The city of Miami Beach released a statement Friday afternoon saying that it was "deeply concerned" to hear that World OutGames had canceled so many of the planned events.

"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," the statement said in part. "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 World OutGames was created by the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association, although the OutGames are open to all who wish to participate, regardless of sexual orientation.

"We remain very committed to our LGBTQ community, and the city of Miami Beach will do everything within our power to ascertain where the failures within the event organization occurred," the city's statement said. "We are grateful to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau who will have a representative at the National Hotel, the World OutGames headquarter hotel, for the duration of the events to liaise with participants on possible alternative activities during their stay, including discounted offers and local attractions."   

The World OutGames is scheduled to be held from Friday to June 4. 

For more information on how to help the athletes, e-mail Local 10 News reporter Carlos Suarez at csuarez@local10.com

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