The World Outgames 2017 seems to be the sporting world's version of the Fyre Festival -- the outdoor music event that created one of the biggest fraud cases in entertainment and sparked both international investigations and nearly a dozen lawsuits. Like that failed concert endeavor, the OutGames tempted participants with a sunny location and huge promises only to leave them stranded and out thousands of dollars.

More than 400 events canceled at the last minute

The 2017 World OutGames were expected to begin this weekend in Miami, FL and several thousand participants had been expected to attend. However, in a brief message posted to the organizer's Facebook page on Friday morning, World OutGames Miami announced the cancellation of all scheduled events, except aquatic sports, western dancing, and soccer. According to several media outlets, athletes had already started arriving in the city to compete when the announcement was made.

The OutGames has had an assorted history prior to this year's events, having been founded after a small group of organizers split from the larger Federation of Gay Games in 2006. In that first year, the Montreal OutGames ran with a relatively large budget of $15 million and attracted major LGBTQ artists to its opening ceremony, but subsequently had to file for bankruptcy protection after they were unable to pay back more than $5 million in loans.

The Board of Directors cited "financial burdens" as the reason for the abrupt cancellation of this year's games, but as of late Saturday evening, the event's website is still online accepting donations and participant registration. According to the site, each athlete paid a base rate of $250 to register for the OutGames, plus up to $275 to participate in their chosen sport.

City staff working to save the games for participants

In a statement released mid-day Saturday, the City of Miami Beach, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) and the Miami Beach Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce are working together to salvage what they can to make the OutGames possible this year.

So far, the groups have been able to work with the Miami OutGames logistics coordinator to restore a number of events -- including field hockey, basketball, and volleyball -- in some capacity. Community sports groups have also stepped in to assist with space and facilitation issues brought up by greater event mismanagement.

Regardless of the scale of the revived event, the Miami Beach Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office have already "conferred and are jointly opening a fraud investigation," according to a spokesperson for the City of Miami.

They will be investigating alleged "misappropriation of funds" by the organizers prior to the cancellation announcement. There has been no word if the group's board of directors have been cooperative in the investigation thus far.

The 2018 Gay Games will be held in Paris next year by the Federation of Gay Games, who have yet to officially comment on this latest action by its former members.

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