By David Vandygriff
The Work OutGames have cancelled just hours before they were set to start sparking an investigation into alleged fraud. The sporting event, which has previously been dubbed the “gay Olympics” was due to start yesterday in Miami.
Thousands of participants and spectators had already arrived in the city in anticipation for the fourth annual event. However, organizers announced that nearly all 450 events had to be cancelled due to financial issues before the opening ceremonies began.
In a statement the organizers made on Facebook, it was explained that events in aquatics, country western dance and soccer will still take place as well as a number of other culture programs and a conference on human rights.
They Board of Directors said thanked everybody who had signed up prior and apologized for the sudden decision. They said: “It is with deep regret that due to financial burdens, World OutGames must cancel opening and closing ceremonies and sports programming with the exception of aquatics, country western dance and soccer.
“The Human Rights Conference and cultural programs will continue as planned. We thank everyone who has supported the effort and apologize to those who will be impacted by this difficult decision,” the statement finished.
The Miami Beach Police Department and Florida State Attorney’s Office have launched a joint fraud investigation into the games. The investigation was sparked after an alleged “potential misappropriation of funds” which caused “deep concern”.
“Due to the potential misappropriation of funds, the Miami Beach Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office have conferred and are jointly opening a fraud investigation,” City Spokesperson Melissa Berthier announced.
The cancellation came after organizers promised that they would follow through with the event despite only attracting 2,000 registrations from athletes. They had hoped to draw 10,000 people but only drew 5,00 people in the last event which took place in 2013.
The decision has been met with widespread criticism and anger, especially from competing athletes who had paid a registration fee in advance. “Thanks for robbing me of my money. I take athletics very seriously. I am very disappointed for a world class city,” wrote one athlete, Andre Mitchell, in response to the statement.
Warren Cass is a Canadian athlete, who will still be able to compete in water polo, said that he could not believe what had happened. Cass explained: “I was shocked. People have paid registration fees. There are people literally coming from all over the world that has been training for this for years and made a very large financial commitment as well.”