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UPDATE: Outgames: track and field in jeopardy?

Organizers find new event host

UPDATE: July 20, 2:45pm
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Outgames organizers say UBC Track & Field has stepped into the track and field breach and will take over as host of the event.

They are taking over for what Kajaks [Track & Field Club] was providing out in Richmond, so they will be providing the volunteers, the equipment, [event] timing, the coordination of the full event, Outgames chair John Boychuk says.

Initially scheduled to take place at the Minoru Track in Clement Park, Richmond, the track and field component is now being held at Dhillon athletic track at UBC in conjunction with the other events happening out there, Boychuk notes. Itll make it easier for logistics for us, as well as for people who want to attend, to now be able to see soccer and see track and field.

Boychuk says Kajaks was not able to fulfill its role as host for financial reasons. The club had anticipated between 300 and 400 athletes, but the Outgames scaled back the size of the event, Boychuk reveals. Its going to be half of that, so for them it didnt make fiscal sense, and so thats why they decided to withdraw. Xtra had still not heard from Kajaks president Fred Pawluk by press time.

In the end, Boychuk says, the clubs withdrawal wasnt a problem. We were able to keep the budget under control by having it at UBC.” Track and field is moving ahead, and registration is still open, he says.

But according to the Outgames website, the discus, javelin, shot put and hammer-throw events have now been cancelled because the throwing cage at UBC was recently vandalized. Outgames organizers “will be in contact with those affected,” the statement adds.

July 20, 12:50pm

Yet another Outgames sports event is in jeopardy just days before the July 25 opening ceremonies are to take place.

Organizers say they are “doing everything possible” to ensure the track and field component proceeds after the club hosting the event invoked the opt-out clause of its licence agreement, according to a statement posted on the Outgames’ website.
   
“You may have heard that the track and field club holding the Outgames licence agreement to host track and field has withdrawn from hosting this event,” the statement begins.

Outgames organizers say they received no advance warning of the club’s decision to opt out due to low registration numbers. Nor were they given an opportunity to work with the club to ensure that “a quality event” for those already registered could go ahead, they say.

“Outgames have made several attempts to renegotiate the agreement with the sporting body without reaching a satisfactory agreement,” the statement reads.

According to the statement, 89 athletes registered for track and field. It also says the event is “still proceeding” and registrations are still being accepted.

Outgames organizers say they are “actively pursuing” alternative arrangements and are in discussion with BC Athletics, BC Games Society, Vancouver Parks Board and UBC.

“I have no comment at this time because of the status of the event right now,” Outgames chair John Boychuk told Xtra on July 19, when asked why the club decided to opt out.

“We have no intention of cancelling it,” he said, when asked if he’s confident the event will go ahead.

Boychuk would not comment on whether Clement Track at Minoru Park in Richmond is still a track and field venue.

On its website, the Richmond Kajaks Track & Field Club identifies itself as the host of the “track and field portion” of the North America Outgames for July 28 and 29. Its event details link leads back to the 2011 Outgames site where the track and field statement is posted.

Xtra’s attempts to reach Kajaks officials were unsuccessful up to posting time.

Boychuk confirmed on July 14 that five other sports — hockey, swimming, mountain biking, mountain marathon and bowling — were cancelled six weeks ago because the host clubs “decided that there wasn’t enough interest in them.”

For hockey and swimming, Boychuk says, competing events taking place around the same time as the Outgames undermined registration here. Only one US women’s team had signalled its interest in hockey.

Michael Ross, who signed up for both sprint and middle distance events, says it’ll be “dismal” if track and field is dropped.

“That’s usually one of the most popular events,” says the runner from Mission, BC.

Ross, who won three gold medals at the Montreal Outgames, says he was looking forward to earning four golds on home turf.