The International Gay and Lesbian Aquatic Association announced that their 2021 event, scheduled in Salt Lake City, has been canceled due to the worldwide pandemic.
“It is with great sadness and disappointment that we report that IGLA 2021 is canceled,” the group’s board said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision — we were all excited for the event, and the organizing committee in Salt Lake was committed to making it work as planned. Regrettably, based on the ongoing concerns for the health and safety of our attendees, travel restrictions, and the inability to fund and hold the wonderful social activities that make IGLA so important to our community, we have jointly reached this decision.”
The group is hoping to host smaller, regional events throughout the year and is “fully supportive” of the Gay Games in Hong Kong to be held in November 2022.
Queer Utah Aquatic Club (QUAC) was to host the event this May where swim masters athletes from all over the world would compete in the only international LGBTQ+ inclusive aquatics tournament.
IGLA originated in 1978 in San Diego, California, and was concurrently held with the second-ever Gay Games — a global LGBTQ+ athletic event that includes a larger range of sporting events: track & field, ballgame sports, mat sports, racquet sports, and more. Since then, the competition has been held in cities all over the world including Berlin, Stockholm, Sydney, Reykjavik, and Montreal. In February 2020, over 800 aquatic athletes competed and celebrated their athletic achievements in water polo, swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming in Melbourne, Australia.
“Events like these can be very meaningful to the LBGTQ+ community, and especially for those from countries where people still face oppression for living their authentic lives,” wrote QUAC leaders in a statement.
In 2016, a few of the competing teams, the IGLA Board, and a QUAC team member made it possible for Ugandan swimmers to participate in the tournament. In Uganda, same-sex sexual acts are still criminalized. In fact, just before the competition, two of the Ugandan swimmers were arrested and placed in jail for participating in a local Pride event.