Montr? will not host the Gay Games in 2006. After several days of tense negotiations before and during the Federation of Gay Games annual general meeting in Chicago, the Montr? delegation refused to sign a contract for the 2006 games, vowing instead to run a similar event without the sanction of the Federation.

An 11th-hour contract concession on the part of the Federation which would have permitted Montr? 2006 to budget for an event with 16,000 competitors was not enough to stop Montr? 2006 from walking away from the contract. The Montr? delegation was not willing to cede control over certain budgetary matters to the Federation, including approval rights for budget increases.

The split leaves the Federation looking for a new host city for the next Gay Games, while Montr? 2006 ploughs on with plans to stage an event which will now be called Rendez-vous 2006 Sport and Cultural Festival.

Federation spokesperson Jake Stafford told Sydney Star Observer that the Federation intended to finalise a selection process for a host city as quickly as possible. Stafford would not be drawn on the names of cities being discussed by the Federation, but other media reports suggest Atlanta is being considered.

The timing of the next Gay Games is also up for discussion, with some sources speculating that they could be moved to 2007, and Montr? 2006 warning that legal action could be taken against the Federation and/or a host city if a Gay Games is staged in 2006. Stafford said the Federation remained respectful of Montr? 2006, but 2006 was as viable as any other year for the staging of the next Gay Games.

Montr? 2006 co-president Mark Tewksbury told the Star the vision for their event remained the same.

Fundamentally, sport people love sport; they don’t care about politics, he asserted. There’s room for more than one event, and if we put on a high-quality event, people will come.

Tewksbury said the Montr? 2006 delegation was unable to make concessions over the budget control matters because the buck stops with us.

We will offer the best sport games the gay and lesbian athletes of the world have ever seen, Tewksbury said. We realise now that it is time to break with the past and with an organisation that ultimately represents little more than itself, with only 21 of the 1,000 sports teams around the world being FGG members.

Stafford disputed this point, arguing that some of the 21 Federation team members were in themselves federations representing many individual sporting groups.

Both sides expressed some regret over the outcome of the negotiations.

10 November will remain for me, and for thousands of gay and lesbian athletes around the world, a day of mourning, Tewksbury said. Montr?’s opportunity to bring forward the ideals of participation, inclusion and personal best as put forward by Tom Waddell have just been crushed by the members of the Federation of Gay Games.

In a media statement, Federation co-president Roberto Mantaci said he deeply regretted Montr?’s decision. The negotiations were planned with the best interests of future Gay Games participants in mind, he said.

Tewksbury said Montr? 2006 would convene a think-tank of gay and lesbian sporting organisations to continue the preparations for the Rendez-vous games.

But a new headache for Montr? 2006 organisers could be on the horizon: a major gay and lesbian community organisation in Montr? issued a press statement shortly before the Chicago negotiations which suggested that some discontent had been brewing about the Montr? 2006 organisation.

The Divers/Cit?estival -“ Montr?’s equivalent of Mardi Gras -“ released a statement urging the Federation and Montr? 2006 to work together.

We ask that the Federation of Gay Games have confidence in the know-how of the Montr? 2006 team, the statement read. We also ask that the organisers of Montr? 2006 respect fully the identity, history and future of the Federation of Gay Games.

The statement also suggested that the timing of the 2006 Montr? Games had been chosen by Montr? 2006 to coincide with the Divers/Cit?estival, without consultation.

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