Manitoba

Winnipeg pulls the plug on 2020 OutGames

The organizers of an international LGBT sporting event set to come to Winnipeg in 2020 have pulled the plug on the OutGames following the abrupt cancellation of the event this spring in Miami that left thousands of athletes in the lurch.

Move comes after Games were abruptly cancelled in Miami earlier this year

Winnipeg dance instructor Horace Luong showed up to the OutGames in Miami in May, only to find out almost all the events had been cancelled. (Horace Luong/Submitted)

The organizers of an international LGBT sporting event set to come to Winnipeg in 2020 have pulled the plug on the OutGames following the abrupt cancellation of the event this spring in Miami that left thousands of athletes in the lurch. 

The 2020 North America OutGames planning committee made the announcement Thursday morning.

"With the incident that happened in Miami this past June and how the athletes were treated, we feel that we are no longer in a position to deliver an exceptional experience for LGBTTQ* athletes under the OutGames banner," said Jonathan Niemczak, chair of the 2020 planning committee.

In May, the OutGames became the focus of a fraud investigation after thousands of athletes and fans were told almost all of the games had been cancelled just hours before they were set to begin.

Pride Winnipeg president Jonathan Niemczak said the OutGames would have given LGBT athletes a special place to compete. (esfera/Shutterstock)

Niemczak, also the president of Pride Winnipeg, said the committee is disappointed with how the events unfolded and can't support the organization going forward.

Pride Winnipeg paid about $2,000 for a bid to host the games and had planned to create a new organization to manage the games, hoping they would showcase Winnipeg to North America, Niemczak said.

'Tarnished'

"When we won the bid, there was tons of excitement." he said, adding that while Winnipeg is a fairly open city, the event would have given LGBT athletes a space to compete in a safe environment.

Winnipeg dance instructor Horace Luong was one of thousands left in the lurch in May when OutGames cancelled the Miami competitions.

Luong said while he was looking forward to attending the event in his own city, he's actually happy they're being cancelled.

"I think the name OutGames has been tarnished, so in some ways, if you're say we're holding the OutGames, I think there's so much negative connotation associated with it that many people may just say we're not going to participate."

Niemczak said the planning committee is now looking at bringing another LGBT sporting event to Winnipeg in 2020 to run alongside Canada Pride, which Winnipeg will host that year.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

​Austin Grabish is a reporter for CBC News in Winnipeg. Since joining CBC in 2016, he's covered several major stories. Some of his career highlights have been documenting the plight of asylum seekers leaving America in the dead of winter for Canada and the 2019 manhunt for two teenage murder suspects. In 2021, he won an RTDNA Canada award for his investigative reporting on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which triggered change. Have a story idea? Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca

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