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Sports

Commonwealth Games organisers must pay up in 10 days, says sports minister

media Fireworks at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during the Delhi 2010 closing … www.cwgdelhi2010.org

Organisers of India’s Commonwealth Games have left foreign contractors and sports bodies with millions of euros of unpaid bills, according to business owners and diplomats. India on Thursday ordered the Games' organising committee to settle all outstanding debts within the next 10 days.

"I have directed the government nominees in organising committee to thoroughly verify the unpaid dues and make all the legitimate payments within 10 days," Sports Minister Ajay Maken told a press conference.

Maken described it as a "very important issue" that he wants resolved "as quickly as possible".

An Australian firm responsible for the opening and closing ceremonies has threatened to sue the organising committee for non-payment.

“None of the companies have received their payments which were due under contract by the end of October,” Ric Birch of Spectak Productions told Australian radio on Thursday.

Birch said 15 other companies were involved with the opening ceremony and his company was owed nearly 260,000 euros.

Law firm Slater & Gordon has been instructed by Birch to launch a class action in order to recover the funds, according to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd on Thursday received guarantees from India’s Foreign Minister SM Krishna that the unpaid cash would be raised from India’s sport ministry.

Following a meeting with Krishna in Australia, Rudd said he was satisfied with the response and would work with the affected companies “like any other Australian company that faces such an issue”.

The Australian Commonwealth Games Association is also still awaiting money for travel subsidies.

“These matters are well in hand,” Rudd told reporters.

Meanwhile firms in Britain, France and Germany have bills to be settled, according to officials who spoke to the AFP news agency.

British diplomats told AFP that broadcasting firm SIS Live was in contact with the British High Commission to help it obtain about 30 per cent of unpaid fees for producing the Games’ television coverage.

Lalit Bhanot, secretary general of the organising committee, told the AFP news agency that they had instructed accountants to pay all outstanding debts.

“Now we will check what is the position and what is the problem if there is one,” Bhanot said on Thursday.

The event’s budget was an estimated 4.45 billion euros and there have been some complaints of misappropriation of funds.

Earlier in January Suresh Kalmadi, the Games’ organising committee chief, was questioned by India’s top investigative agency. Kalmadi denies any wrongdoing.

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