This opinion piece addresses the recent cancellation of the opening and closing ceremonies in addition to most of the sporting events of the Miami OutGames 2017.
The buzz in the U.S. this past weekend should have been focused on honoring our veterans who gave their lives in service to our country. Instead, the buzz out of Miami centered on the cancellation of most of the Miami OutGames 2017 sporting events and the opening and closing ceremonies. Athletes and the press received ominous emails on Friday, May 26 notifying recipients that the opening and closing ceremonies and most of the sporting events had been cancelled. Swimming, country western dance and soccer were still on. And so were the cultural programs.
Compete was a sponsor of the event and was supposed to have participated in the OutGames by manning a booth, working with the athletes and reporting on the event. We cancelled our trip to Miami when our emails about the logistics went unanswered. We chalked it up to the organizers being overwhelmed with their top priority – planning for the athletes.
Initially, we were surprised by the cancellation of the sporting events. Like everyone else, we were repeatedly assured by the event organizers that the event would go on and that it would play out as a feather in the hat of the local organizers and the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association (GLISA).
The local Miami OutGames group has been organizing the event for at least the past two years. That should have given them ample time to successfully organize the event, proven by the expediency shown by the City of Miami and the volunteer organizations that were able to step in and put together substitute events within days of the cancellation announcement.
In fact, I am very appreciative of the way the community has come together – from the city to the volunteers to the athletes. I am also glad the Miami OutGames team turned over their Facebook page to the volunteers so they can communicate directly with the athletes. It is very heartwarming to witness the coming together of everyone involved to make the best of a very difficult situation.
While there have been news reports related to possible fraud allegations by the OutGames, I truly hope that those allegations prove to be false and that the last minute cancellations were due to other reasons beyond the control of the organizers.
Rather than point fingers, I look for dialogue from the organizers and hope to hear more from GLISA and the Miami OutGames organizers very soon. Specifically, I would like a report on what happened and where the registration fees, sponsorships and donations went. Those are the real questions that participants, donors and sponsors have and they deserve to have honest answers.