Sydney: The controversy-marred Commonwealth Games, held in New Delhi last year, finds itself in yet another embarrassing situation with an Australian company deciding to sue event’s organizers over the unpaid bills.
An Australian company, which was behind the CWG opening and closing ceremonies, has still not received the bills from the Organizing Committee (OC) and hence, is all set to take a legal action against it, reported ABC.net.au.
Ric Birch, who was the mastermind behind the successful opening and closing ceremonies of the mega-event, which took place from 3 October to 14 last year, told the website that his employers have still not paid their bill.
“I supplied the services of 12 people over the course of the year leading up to the Games, which included choreographers, producers and myself as executive producer,” he was quoted as saying.
“They’re all production people who were intimately involved in the creation, production and direction of the opening and closing ceremonies.”
He also added that when he tried to contact the organizers of the Games in relation to the unpaid bills, the calls were first ignored.
“Then finally in December I got a very short note from Lalit Bhanot who is secretary general of the organising committee,” he said.
“He sent a note saying that now they wanted to claim a performance guarantee because Mr Birch’s performance was not up to the mark. So I am mortified as you can imagine.”
Birch is now planning to sue the OC so that they could recover their hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding fees.
He has also given his lawyers the names of other businesses, which may also want to take the legal action against Committee.
“There were up to 15 other companies involved with the opening ceremony and many more companies involved with the Commonwealth Games overall,” he said.
“Of those about half -- the individuals, not the corporations -- (have been paid) three months late but they were finally paid. But none of the companies have received their payments which were due under contract by the end of October last,” he said.
Birch said that he had never faced such problems while working on other Commonwealth Games or the Olympics in Mexico or China, Barcelona or Los Angeles.
“We had an anagram which came about by the ceremonies that everyone was heartily sick of the Delhi Organising Committee so we decided that India stood for ‘India - I’ll never do it again’,” he said.
But it is not only the private sector that is bearing the burnt, even the Australian Commonwealth Games Association is owed more than $100,000 in travel subsidies.
The association’s chief executive, Perry Crosswhite, is also in talks with the OC.
“Besides all the usual letters and calls and so forth, we’re taking the matter up with our international body, which is the Commonwealth Games Federation who are very concerned about it as well,” he said.
“We’ve also (spoken) with the Indian high commissioner to see whether she could help as well and she’s trying to.”
Crosswhite said the association is now running short of funds, which is required to prepare local athletes for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
When Indian foreign minister SM Krishna, who is currently visiting Australia, was asked about it, he said that he was aware of the issue and would take up the matter when he returns home.
“As soon as I go back to India I will take it up with the minister of sports and I will certainly be the interlocutress on behalf of Australia so that the dues can be settled,” he said.