The World OutGames, scheduled to take place in Miami Beach starting Friday through June 4, will be a shell of past years as many events were cancelled.
NBC 6 has learned all sports except for three - soccer, aquatics and country western dance - will not take place. The opening and closing ceremonies will also not take place after the board of directors issued a statement saying the cancellations were due to "financial challenges"
In a statement released to NBC 6, the City of Miami Beach says the issue stems from a potential misappropriation of funds. The Miami Beach Police Department and the State Attorney's Office are now opening a fraud investigation.
Concerts and cultural activities will take place as planned.
In a statement, the Board of Directors for the World OutGames wrote:
The City of Miami Beach is deeply concerned to hear that the World OutGames has decided to cancel their Opening and Closing Ceremonies and sports programming, with the exception of soccer, aquatics and country western dance. The Human Rights Conference and cultural programming are still planned to take place.
City staff has worked consistently for the past several months to assist the event producers with special events planning and permitting; fundraising efforts; relocationg events to low or no cost venues; assisting with local partners to provide support access; and providing financial support to cover police staffing costs. As a lead sponsor of the event, the City also waived all related special event and permitting fees for this event and provided cash sponsorship to the OutGames.
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.
We remain very committed to our LGBTQ community, and the City of Miami Beach will do everything within our power to ascertain where the failures within the event organization occured.
We are grateful to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau who will have a representative at the National Hotel, the World OutGames headquarter hotel, for the duration of the events to liase with participants on possible alternative activities during their stay, including discounted offers and local attractions.
We welcome the athletes, families, and visitors in attendance for the events still scheduled, and remain honored to be chosen as a host city known for our unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ community.
Athletes and visitors have flown in from all over the world to participate in the events.
Damian Pilie says he flew into Miami with 20 of his teammates from Canada.
"I could not even imagine doing this to participants and at such a last minute," he said. "I mean you have to pay your flight, your hotel and the registration. It was the most expensive of OutGames history."
Thursday, the City Manager sent a memo stating the city had not received the deposit money from organizers. That's when the marathon was canceled, but runners didn't find out until Friday.
"I've been training for 16 weeks and now we don't know what is going to happen," said one athlete.
Late Friday, the City of Miami Beach released a statement regarding the event's cancellation.
"We remain very committed to our LGBTQ community, and the City of Miami Beach will do everything within our power to ascertain where the failures within the event organization occurred," the statement said.