A bitter dispute among organizers of the 2006 Gay Games in Montreal has been heating up. According to a report by the National Post, representatives from the international Federation of Gay Games are concerned that the number of proposed attendees is far too high, a problem that has put the organization in debt several times in the past. But those behind the successful Montreal bid accuse the federation of undermining their dream of bringing the Games into the big time. They initially envisioned 24,000 participants, creating an event bigger than the Olympics.
The last four Gay Games have lost money, and a deficit in Montreal could spell the end for the quadrennial competition, the federation's copresident told the Post on Wednesday. "We do not want the brand of our event tarnished," Roberto Mantaci said. "If this continues, it is sure there will not be another Gay Games." The volunteer-run federation has told Montreal to slash its budget by November 7 or risk seeing the event and its anticipated $200 million in spin-offs moved to another city.
Mark Tewksbury, the Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer who is a copresident of the Montreal 2006 organizing committee, is standing his ground, however. He accused the international federation of underestimating support for the Games in Montreal. The fact that the competition will be returning to North America for the first time since 1994 guarantees a big turnout, he said. Already, Montreal
has more than $5 million committed from the three levels of government and the private sector. "There is a danger that we could lose the bid that we've already won, but I can tell you there will be a Games in Montreal, with or without the federation," Tewksbury said. "We're halfway through building a house here."
The successful bid, announced in 2001, was considered a coup for Montreal, which is already a popular gay tourist destination. "The Games will confirm Montreal as the most important gay destination in the world," Charles Lapointe, director of Tourism Montreal, told a news conference last August.