2 min

Gay Games 2006 in trouble

Dispute between Montreal planners and international headquarters

A dispute is brewing in Montreal between the organizers of the next Gay Games and the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) which oversees them.

According to a recent report in the Montreal Gazette, the co-president of the Montreal committee is upset about some of the powers the FGG wants to exercise. For starters, the federation is trying to limit the number of athletes that can compete in 2006, Mark Tewksbury told the Gazette.

That’s not true, counters FGG co-president Roberto Mantaci. The federation is not trying to limit the number of athletes, it is simply suggesting that Montreal start with a more “prudent” initial plan, Mantaci tells Xtra West from his home in Paris.

In the past, host cities have formulated “grand plans” and then “struggled” to deliver, Mantaci explains. Sydney’s ambitious plans for its 2002 Gay Games had enormous financial problems and almost bankrupted the games before they even opened.

This time, the FGG wants Montreal to benefit from past experience and start small, then grow. “Nobody would be happier than the federation” if everything goes well and the plans grow, Mantaci says.

Then there’s the question of who gets the final say on financial matters. Tewksbury says it would be impossible for his committee to “sign off on fiduciary powers. At the end, it’s us who are legally accountable and this is the public’s money,” says the Olympic gold medallist. (The Montreal team has already secured $4.5 million worth of government funding and support for the games.)

Mantaci says he understands that and adds that the FGG “is not trying to micromanage” the Montreal team. But the FGG needs to be able to discuss financial decisions with the team to make sure it doesn’t repeat past mistakes, he insists.

Besides, Mantaci adds, these provisions have been in place for years and were in place at the bidding meetings when Montreal asked for the games.

Tewksbury says he’s optimistic that the differences can be resolved. It’s too soon to say the Montreal Gay Games are in danger, he told the Gazette.

Mantaci isn’t so sure.

The FGG has been trying to reach an agreement with the Montreal committee on these and other issues (like use of the FGG logo) for two years now, he says. And so far there’s no agreement in sight.

That’s why the FGG has set a Nov 7 deadline. If the two parties can’t reach an agreement by then, the FGG may have to choose a different city to host the 2006 Gay Games, Mantaci says.

But he hopes it won’t come to that. “We’re negotiating in completely good faith because we believe it’s in the best interest of the FGG to reach an agreement with Montreal,” he says.