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Settle dues to Aus firms in 10 days: Sports minister

By Onkar Singh
January 20, 2011 19:07 IST
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Taking serious note of the payment dispute between some Australian firms and organisers of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, the Sports Ministry has ordered the latter to settle the issue within ten days.

Ajay Maken, the new sports minister, instructed the sports secretary to get in touch with the government officials in the Commonwealth Organising Committee and clear all legitimate payments after proper verification.

"I have ordered the sports secretary to settle the issue in the next ten days and clear all verified and legitimate payments pending to Australia and other participating countries.

"I do not want that this matter should linger for more time and the international national media focus on this issue," Maken told journalists, when asked by what is he planning to do about the alleged threat of Australian firms to sue the organizing committee for failing to clear the payments despite repeated reminders and phone calls.

Four of Australia's biggest event management firms have threatened to slap a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the Commonwealth Games organisers for the recovery of their dues. Ric Birch, the man behind the successful opening and closing ceremonies of the mega-event, in Delhi from October 3 to 14 last year, has commissioned Slater and Gordon, a Melbourne-based law firm, a to draw up the multi-million dollar lawsuit that would involve at least four of Australia's biggest event firms - including his firm, Spectak Productions, and fireworks group Howard & Sons -- against the Delhi Games' organisers.

He refused to comment when asked whether Suresh Kalmadi would be happy to see the back of M S Gill from the sports ministry.

"I have just taken over and I do not wish to comment on such matters," he said, with a smile.

He praised his predecessor, Gill, and said he would continue to push for transparency. As minister of sports, he said, he would like to see younger faces, who have played at the international level, being given more say in the running the sports bodies.

"Those who have played the games are more passionate and understand the difficulties of the athletes, which the other officials would not be able to do so," he said.

Maken said that he would not adopt a confrontationist approach and rather find a middle ground to ensure greater transparency and participation in running the affairs of the sports bodies."

"The age factor is a big issue," he added.

According to Maken, India's blue print for the 2012 Olympic Games, to be held in London, would be ready soon.

"Our effort would be to get more medals in the Olympic 2012. Last time we had three medals. I have asked the sports secretary to prepare a schedule for training sportspersons for the Olympic Games. Year 2010 was good from this perspective. We won more medals in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, something we had never done before," he said.

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Onkar Singh New Delhi