Outgames will not win the gold medal in finances
Montr�al--The inaugural World Outgames, held last summer, left behind many memories for participants and spectators, but the main thing it left in its wake was debt.
An audit by the government of Qu�bec found that the Outgames were over $2 million in the hole, owing money to everyone from Martina Navratilova and the Cirque du Soleil to advertising agencies and consultants.
The games, which ran from July 29 to August 5, brought in around 12,000 athletes from around the world.
However, there were fewer spectators than organizers planned, which hurt their tickets sales.
Organizers of the event also pointed out that some loans and other funding from the province were paid by granting free use of facilities, instead of giving money directly to organizers, which would have allowed them to at least partially pay each creditor.
�The small suppliers that helped us will be penalized by this action,� co-chair Marielle Dup�r� told the Canadian Press.
The Outgames were born out of a dispute between the Federation of Gay Games and the organizers of what was to be the 2006 Gay Games in Montr�al over new rules putting financial control with the Federation. When the Federation revoked their offer to Montr�al and gave the games to Chicago instead, the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association and the provincial and city governments established the Outgames.
The last four Gay Games all ended up in the red, and this year�s installment was no different. However, organizers believe they can make up the $200,000 shortfall by selling off the sporting festival�s assets.
Dup�r� believed that part of the problem lay in having both the Outgames and the Gay Games in the same year.
The next World Outgames is scheduled for 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark, a year before the next Gay Games.
Before then, however, Outgames will hold continental events, the first in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 2007 and the next in Asia in 2008.
Organizers of both the Gay Games and Outgames believe that there is enough support for two major sporting festivals, and that having them in different years will allow more people to attend both.
In 2006, for instance, 20 members of Ohio Splash attended the Outgames in Montr�al, bringing home over 30 medals, while only one member of Splash participated in the Gay Games.
In addition to the financial burden of attending both games, athletes would also need to take off from work and arrange travel to both events in the space of two months.
The Gay Games suffered in terms of international competitors, both from the world view of the war in Iraq and because of the United States� policy on allowing HIV-positive foreigners into the country. The government issued a waiver for the games on that front, but still only one in four contestants was from abroad.