Hours before the opening ceremony, the World OutGames Miami — an international queer sporting event that split off from the Gay Games in 2006 — was canceled in May.
According to details released Tuesday in a Miami Beach audit, organizers of the World OutGames Miami kept shady financial records, grossly overestimated fundraising and spent more than $600,000 — almost half the revenue — on consulting, advertising and promotional fees for sporting events that were canceled on opening day.
“In reviewing these documents, it became apparent that the general ledger was not necessarily accurate as it was found to contain incorrect check numbers and disbursement classification errors,’’ according to the audit report. “Compounding matters was the lack of sufficient, complete and organized documentation.’’
The World OutGames Miami audit found the following:
– “Out of $1.4 million in the OutGames account, “organizers spent $330,218 on consulting fees and $296,498 on advertising and promotion.”
– “OutGames CEO Ivan Cano walked away with $106,992 in consulting fees for his work,” according to the audit. “The chief operating officer, Keith Hart, ran up a $94,000 American Express tab on his personal account to pay some of the bills.”
– “Organizers spent $106,345 on marketing trips across the U.S. and abroad to Europe and Latin America. Only $65,475 was spent on sporting events.”
– “Hotels and other creditors are still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
– “OutGames officials had not paid a $5,000 deposit for necessary event permits.”
– “Athletes paid nearly $500,000 in registration fees to OutGames.”
The OutGames were slated to bring 10,000 LGBTQ athletes to Miami for hundreds of events over 10 days. Unfortunately, the event had only 2,000 athletes registered last month, five times fewer than the ultimate goal. Regardless, those 2,000 people still paid for and traveled to an event that never happened.
One team from Mexico talked to Steve Rothaus about being stranded in Miami with nothing to do and very little resources. “We cannot just go back now,” one athlete said. ‘We just have to spend the whole week here with nothing. Our whole trip was based on this.”
The World OutGames Miami has nothing to do with the Gay Games that is slated to return to Paris in 2018.
Miami Beach police and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office are still determining if charges should be filed. Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said, at this point, “no charges have been filed.”
We reached out World OutGames Miami CEO Ivan Cano for comment. We have yet to hear back from him.