National Library of New Zealand
Harvested by the National Library of New Zealand on: Oct 10 2015 at 9:12:45 GMT
Search boxes and external links may not function. Having trouble viewing this page? Click here
Close Minimize Help
Wayback Machine
GayNZ Logo & Link
Saturday 10 October 2015

Outgames decision - behind the scenes

Posted in: Our Communities
By Jay Bennie - 3rd September 2015

The Auckland Outgames 2016, scheduled for February, will not now happen, not as an official Outgames anyhow.

The organisation which authorises the running of various glbti Outgames around the world, GLISA, and in particular its Asia Pacific regional representatives, today said it cannot see the second attempt to set in place an Outgames in Auckland meeting the conditions it requires for an event to be mounted in its name.

The latest attempt came hard on the heels of the sudden discovery early last month that the board members of the Auckland Outgames 2016 Inc. organisation which had been working on preparations for the games had all quietly resigned two weeks earlier, and subsequently that the organisation itself was being wound up.

It's a complicated situation but, put simply, lack of funding and confidence all round appeared to be at the core of the matter.

A new group of determined people seized the arrangements already in place and tried to work with GLISA in a more flexible manner. GLISA 'own' the Outgames concept, without their approval an Outgames cannot be held.

Craig Watson
Craig Watson is one of the more prominent members of the 'rescue' team.

“About two weeks ago GLISA said to us 'In order for us to put our names to this event we need you to concentrate on several things for us,'” Watson told us earlier this evening.

“They wanted to see a full budget based on registration fees, full participant costs and recovery, and costings and so forth.

“They wanted to see all the venues that were on board, basically a full game plan.

“They also wanted us to have an established, organised body, that we'd create something new or that we have a contract in place with somebody else to deliver the games.

“And they wanted concrete confirmation by Auckland Council that the games can be supported.

“So I wrote back to them two days ago for their meeting and gave them the update.

"I showed them the sporting schedule we've got and the budget which Dion Leslie and I believe is very healthy. We haven't been able to yet have a physical agreement with a sporting group which can take it on. We've had phone conversations with a sporting organisation and they have said that in theory they would happily take it on but they're in the middle of an event themselves at the moment so now is not the appropriate time for them to put a bit of time into this, but they said it can be done and they would support it in theory.

“And regarding their wanting confirmation from Auckland Council that the games would be supported, it was never Auckland Council's job to support these games. There was no agreement with them to say that Council will support the Outgames and that they will make them happen. Auckland Council has always shown an interest in the games and has certainly been helpful to me about working towards opening opportunities and making opportunities happen to see the games happen. But there was never an agreement that they would be the main support for the games to happen."

It was always implicit that this gay sports event would have to front up to the council like all other events seeking funding and take its chances. Has GLISA added that requirement to the mix since the first organisation was trying to make this work?

“The deputy mayor, Penny Hulse, did sign the original agreement between GLISA and [the original outgames people] but as a witness. There was no responsibility whatsoever on Council's part to deliver these games.”

So has a perhaps wary GLISA raised the bar since that signing?

“Yes, I would say so. After Auckland Outgames 2016 Inc. decided to wind itself up I went to GLISA and said here's an option that I think will work, that we go to a sporting group, which is what we have done and that group has said 'Yes, we can do this but we will require $20,000” and [that group] then wrote that in a letter back to Council. That's when GLISA put it in their criteria that Auckland Council has to come through with this. This is not something that no one has not had before, it's just that my group, the new group, got that added in in this way to the conditions... which was tricky.”

GLISA set a deadline of 31 August for the make or break decision to be made, in order for the necessary associated arrangements such as competitors' registration, training and travel plans, to be feasible. In effect the rescue group had less than a month to pull in expertise and ideas, to get to work and to try to find an alternative and viable route to gaining GLISA's confidence that they could pull an Outgames off.

“Those things GLISA needed were a little bit difficult to try and achieve in that short amount of time available to us so we went back to them with the best of what we had come up with,” Watson says. “Obviously that was not good enough for them and so they decided, in order for us all to move on. And we agree they had to make a decision. And their decision is that they won't support it with their branding.”

From his description of where things are at with, for instance, the sports organisation to oversee the arrangements, it does sound as though everything is still very loose. The original Auckland Outgames organisation also said that they had been talking with lots of people, that everybody had good intentions, that people had voiced support. But they went quiet for months and eventually it transpired, after the board members had quit, that they actually had nothing signed in the funding support area.

“You're right," says Watson, "everything is very loose, everyone has all the good intentions but no one has put pen to paper just yet. The only difference is we are being up front about it, and being honest and saying this is not a good position.”

For instance, Watson has talked before of needing to raise the outside sporting management organisation's fee of $20,000. Did that, or any other funding materialise this time around?

“Next week we will know some more about that. I've had confirmation from a Council source that one of our funding arrangements has been successful, I'm just waiting for written confirmation on what the amount is.”

Will the fact that the February event will not now be an actual Outgames affect that funding arrangement?

“At this early stage, so soon after GLISA's announcement, I'm not sure.”

Deep down there seems to be something a bit catch-22-ish in this whole situation.

“Yes,” sighs Watson. “We can't open registrations or say we've officially got the Outgames until we get these things and we can't get these things until we've got the Outgames. That's why I said they needed to tell us one way or the other so we know which way to go forward.”

It's clear Watson has put a lot of work into this, so has the rest of the rescue team. So how do they feel about GLISA's announcement today?

“I personally feel absolutely drained. If it wasn't for the team who've been so passionate about wanting to see something happen I would have walked away from this at 9 o'clock this morning when I got told. I think they all felt it was a bit of a slap in the face... no, that's probably a bit strong, but it was a knock to them, especially for the amount of work they've put in as volunteers in a short amount of time.”

There were no guarantees on this mission to rescue the Auckland Outgames, does Watson think they all gave it their best shot?

“Yeah, yeah I do.”

In part two of this interview, tomorrow (Friday), we ask Craig Watson to look ahead to how a new and forward-thinking February 2016 sporting event may rise from the ashes of the Auckland Outgames.

Jay Bennie - 3rd September 2015

   Bookmark and Share