Manitoba

Winnipeg dance instructor left in the lurch at OutGames

Concern is growing in Winnipeg about an international LGBT sporting event set to come to the city after OutSports pulled the plug on events in Miami.

Concerns growing about future of LGBT sporting event set to come to Winnipeg in 2020

International sporting event World OutGames abruptly cancelled almost all of its events, just hours before they were set to begin. (World OutGames)

A Winnipeg dance instructor is trying to make the best out of a trip to Miami after an international LGBT sporting event abruptly pulled the plug on almost all of its events hours before they were set to begin last Friday.

And now there's concern from Pride Winnipeg about OutGames, which are set to come to the city in 2020.

"It's disappointing," Horace Luong said from Miami on Wednesday morning.

​Luong said the trip has already cost him $3,000 to $4,000 US. 
Winnipeg dance instructor Horace Luong is disappointed by the cancellation of OutGames. (Horace Luong/Facebook)

He originally planned to take part in a martial arts event, but at the beginning of April, organizers contacted him saying the event was cancelled due to low registration, so he opted instead to get ballroom dance tickets.

At the last hour, the plug got pulled on the dance event, but Miami organizers stepped in to have their own day of dance on Tuesday. 

"Many people are still negative about it. In fact, the dance competition, we dare not say the word OutGames," Luong said.

Fraud investigation launched

The Miami Beach Police Department and Florida State Attorney's Office have opened a joint fraud investigation into the Games.

The investigation follows an alleged "potential misappropriation of funds," says a news release from the City of Miami Beach, which is "deeply concerned" about the cancellations.

OutGames cancelled almost all of its events, including dance, but Miami organizers stepped in and put on their own same-sex dance event. (Horace Luong)

Luong said he's concerned about OutGames, which are set to come to Winnipeg in 2020.

"It's just so poorly organized and poorly advertised."

Jonathan Niemczak, chair of the Winnipeg 2020 North America OutGames planning committee, said he's been closely following news about the Games coming out of Miami.

It stunned him and other organizers in Winnipeg, he said.

"At first I thought these were fake reports," he said.

Still hopeful Games will come to Winnipeg

Niemczak​ said Pride Winnipeg paid about $2,000 in bid fees to host the Games and organizers are feeling leery about it, but still hope to bring them to Winnipeg.

He said it's important to bring a large-scale LGBT sporting event to Winnipeg.

The 2020 OutGames are supposed to come to Winnipeg and run alongside Pride Winnipeg's annual celebrations. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)

"It's really no secret that the sports world is still, especially the professional sporting world, is very, very homophobic, transphobic. It's still an issue," he said.

"Any time a major athlete that's part of any type of major sporting organization comes out, it's a big thing and they're often quickly looked to as an inspiration for LGBTTQ athletes."

On its webpage, World OutGames said with "deep regret" it had to cancel the events.

Its board of directors said aquatics, country western dance and soccer events will continue.

A statement from the organization's board of directors said it had to cancel opening and closing ceremonies along with other sports programming due to "financial burdens."

About the Author

​Austin Grabish landed his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. This past summer, he was on the ground in northern Manitoba covering the manhunt for B.C. fugitives Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, which attracted international attention. Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca

with files from CBC Toronto

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