The World Outgames was supposed to be a premier global athletic event on the doorsteps of Miami Beach in May, but instead it imploded just days before the kickoff, according to a police audit obtained by NBC 6.
Five years of planning went down the drain. The report revealing the downward spiral was caused by gross mismanagement of money and unrealistic expectations. The organizers lost millions of dollars and disappointed thousands of LGBTQ athletes.
Those competitors, who traveled from all over the world, were left stranded on opening day because most of the games had been canceled due to financial challenges.
“You had 1,000 athletes from all over the world who spent thousands of dollars to get here and compete and we find there are $600,000 mismanaged,” said activist Marcus Mills.
This week, Miami Beach police completed an audit of the World Outgames. The report said organizers Ivan Cano and Keith Hart were “ambitious” with a projected $11 million in revenue, 10,000 athletes and 37 games. However, by game time all of those numbers dropped by more than half, according to the audit.
“There were a lot of warning signs that were expressed by several prominent members and colleagues,” said activist Pietro Bonacossa.
Investigators pointed to problems with fundraising, bookkeeping, and how money was spent. World Outgames is in massive debt, owing hundreds of thousands to hotels, vendors and a backlog of fees. The report also revealed that more than $106,000 was paid to Cano for consulting and marketing and for trips around the world.
“It wasn't just gross mismanagement, it was also a deliberate decision to squander and misappropriate funds for personal use,” said Bonacossa.
Despite the mismanagement of funds, police said the findings did not warrant criminal charges.
"Financial records did not show the malicious intent to deprive funds from donors for personal gain,” Miami Beach Chief Dan Oates said in an email. Activist Mills disagrees with police, arguing that someone should face charges or pay a fine.
NBC 6 reached out to the organizers, but Cano said he wasn’t ready to talk. He did say they are reviewing the audit and are preparing a response.