CWG: Oz firm surprised by reports of termination

Melbourne: An Australian marketing firm reportedly terminated by trouble-plagued Commonwealth Games organizers says it has not had any official confirmation from officials in New Delhi.

Sports Media and Management spokesman Greg Campbell told agencies on Friday that he`d received no notification from organizers despite Indian media reports that the Melbourne-based company, hired to secure millions of dollars in sponsorship for the Oct. 3-14 Commonwealth Games, had been fired.

Indian media quoted New Delhi committee spokesman General Lalit Bhanot as saying SMAM had been terminated "with immediate effect," allegedly for failing to bring in USD 122 million in sponsorships by June 30.

"We have seen the media reports, but do not want to comment until we see something in writing," Campbell said. Bhanot said the committee`s executive board had sought legal opinion before deciding to terminate the contract with the Australian company.

"The executive committee terminated the services of SMAM with immediate effect on ground of non-performance after giving notice. We had fixed USD 122 million to be brought by June 30 but they failed."

This is the reason of their termination. Legal opinion says we can terminate them on three-day notice.

Not even one rupee has been paid to SMAM." Campbell did not comment on Bhanot`s statement, but in an earlier statement after accusations of corruption were swirling around the games organizers, SMAS denied any impropriety in relation to its Commonwealth Games agreement, and said the Delhi games had generated record-breaking sponsorship income so far totaling $85 million. "SMAM strongly rebuts all unfounded, baseless and false allegations and innuendoes about SMAM and its scope of services towards the Organizing Committee (OC) for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games," the statement said.

"The reports in a section of the media are grossly misinterpreted and are based on the false information gathered from unidentified sources." The news came as a top official of the Commonwealth Games quit the organizing committee following allegations that his son won a lucrative contract to lay 14 synthetic surfaces on the tennis courts being used for the event.

In the latest setback to hit the event, newspapers reported that organizing committee treasurer Anil Khanna had resigned in the wake of the allegations, despite saying the contract was awarded before he`d joined the organizing committee. PTI also reported the committee had suspended three officials: joint director General T. S. Darbari, deputy director general Sanjay Mohindroo and M. Jaychandran, joint director general of accounts and finance, for their alleged role in the Queen`s Baton Relay in London.

Corruption allegations have dogged the Commonwealth Games and government officials have urged organizers to take action. Earlier this week, Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell asked local organizers for a full report on the corruption allegations.

"It is something which is very disturbing and we do feel that the matter needs urgent attention by Indian authorities," Fennell told a television channel. The corruption allegations are just one of a myriad of problems facing the event. New Delhi organizers have been under pressure for more than a year since it became apparent that construction delays meant none of the venues would be finished before deadline.

Now, authorities are racing to complete transport projects and stadiums in time for the opening of the biggest sporting event in India since the 1982 Asian Games.

Bureau Report

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