Winnipeg dance instructor left in the lurch at OutGames
Concerns growing about future of LGBT sporting event set to come to Winnipeg in 2020
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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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."
with files from CBC Toronto