world outgames runners

2017 World Outgames: Despite Only 2,000 Registrants, the Games Will Go On

The World Outgames, an international queer sporting event that split off from the Gay Games in 2006, will hold its opening ceremonies in Miami, Florida, on May 26, 2017. Unfortunately the event has only 2,000 athletes registered according to Outsports, five times fewer than the ultimate goal of 10,000 athletes. A lack of registrants — only 500 — and funds compelled Outgames to cancel the 2016 event, but organizers have said canceling this year’s games isn’t an option, though some of the sports might get the cut.

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While one-third of the registrants have reportedly signed up for aquatics and soccer events, the Outgames will cut more of its 30 pre-planned sporting events if registration for them remains low. Thus far, the games have only mentioned cancelling netball, but its complete slate of sports includes volleyball, water polo and bodybuilding as well as competitive games like dominos, darts and billiards. The games will ultimately decide which sports to keep by April 1.

In addition to the sporting events, the World Outgames also hosts a series of cultural events and a human rights conference to promote cultural exchange and international LGBTQ rights. The games are expecting athletes from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong and New Zealand — among others — and say the planning for these cultural activities is going well.

world outgames swimmer

Outsports notes that other international queer sporting events have also recently suffered from a lack of participants. The next Gay Games slated for Paris in August 2018 currently has about 2,000 registered competitors, far short of a desired 15,000. In comparison, the 2014 Games in Cleveland had 8,800 athletes and the 2013 World Outgames had over 10,000.

RELATED | Queer History: The Gay Games Are Our Version of the Olympics

While any number of reasons could account for the lack of registered athletes, President Trump’s travel ban and strict immigration policies may play a role. Trump’s policies have resulted in an Iranian chemical engineer being detained after coming home to the U.S. from a gay cruise. CNN also reports that 38% of corporate travel professionals in Europe are avoiding U.S. travel since Trump’s ban; surely that also affects would-be LGBTQ visitors.