The co-president of the Federation of Gay Games has revealed for the first time how close Sydney came to losing the Gay Games in 2002.

Speaking to the gay American publication In Newsweekly shortly before Christmas, Roberto Mantaci said the organisers of Sydney 2002 Gay Games had been over-optimistic in their budget forecasts, and there was a crucial 24-hour period where everything almost fell apart, a month before the opening ceremony.

Mantaci’s comments were made in the context of a broader interview focusing on the tensions between the Federation and the Montr? Rendez-vous 2006 organising team.

Sydney 2002 had a Plan A, where they were shooting for the moon, while having a Plan B in the drawer, Mantaci revealed. The problem was that they were so committed to Plan A, despite all the difficulties they faced, they were always reluctant to take that Plan B out of the drawer -“ and eventually didn’t and it was too late.

Mantaci went on to state that members of the Federation executive advised Sydney 2002 to be more prudent in its budgeting during a site visit eight months before the Games.

They didn’t listen to us. Three or four months later, they told us we were right, he said.

Later, Mantaci said that the Sydney Games were on the verge of being cancelled on a couple of occasions, including one month before the opening ceremony.

Sydney 2002 had no money in the bank and they were operating on the verge of bankruptcy, Mantaci said.

But Sydney 2002 co-chair Bev Lange rejected many of Mantaci’s claims when she spoke to Sydney Star Observer this week.

Roberto has clearly breached the confidentiality of the Federation and Sydney 2002 executive group, Lange said.

We modified and reduced our expenditure progressively. To suggest that we didn’t is just offensive, she said, adding that there had never been a formal plan B.

Cancelling the Games was an option Sydney 2002 canvassed on a number of occasions, Lange said, but it was never an option considered by the Federation. Another Gay Games source, who did not want to be named, claimed that there were at least four occasions when the idea of cancelling the Games was seriously considered.

Roberto has used us as a whipping post to justify the Federation’s behaviour in its dealings with Montr?, Lange said.

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