Fresh concerns over the preparations of Durban for the 2022 Commonwealth Games have risen after claims that South Africa’s National Treasury have held back on signing financial guarantees to host the event.
The KwaZulu-Natal province, where the city is located, had had originally promised to contribute ZAR580 million (£26 million/$38 million/€34 million) to help host the first Commonwealth Games to be staged in Africa.
In March, KwaZulu-Natal Finance MEC Belinda Scott had admitted that this was no longer possible and revealed they had “escalated this matter to the National Treasury for urgent national intervention, in order that National Government is made aware that they will need to make provision for funding this funding pressure.”
It has now been claimed that the National Treasury have not offered final assurances or paid a first installment to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).
“We have no idea when the guarantees will be signed and the money paid, but we have been to the Treasury regarding this issue,” Mark Alexander, the chairman of Durban 2022, told the The New Age.
The CGF have played down concerns, stating that they have been reassured that the first host city payment will be made after governance and structures are finalised.
“The Commonwealth Games Federation has been working very closely with host nation partners in South Africa as they finalise their financial arrangements, organising committee and board to ensure successful delivery of an inspiring and inclusive Commonwealth Games in 2022," a CGF spokesperson told insidethegames.
"Our discussions with the South African Minister of Sport and Director-General of the South African Department of Sport and Recreation are ambitious and positive.
"As part of our collaborative delivery partnership we have been reassured that the first host city payment will be honoured soon as they finalise their governance and structures.
"Across the many levels of Government involved, we remain confident that the host Commonwealth Games Association (SASCOC) and its partners will not only deliver on their commitments to successfully host the Games in six years time, but write a new chapter for the Commonwealth Sports Movement as the first Commonwealth Games on African soil.”
Durban 2022 has budgeted ZAR6.4 billion (£313 million/$481 million/€430 million) to stage the Games.
South Africa's Cabinet estimated that the Games could generate ZAR20 billion (£975 million/$1.5 billion/€1.4 billion) in output.
That would give the country's gross domestic product a boost of ZAR11 billion (£537 million/$827 million/€739 million) and provide employment opportunities for at least 11,500 people.
The CGF Evaluation Commission had requested assurances over financial guarantees last August when publishing their report prior to the organisation’s General Assembly.
Durban 2022 were able to allay those concerns, with the CGF eventually awarding the South African city the Games on September 2 in Auckland.
They had been the only bidders after their only rival Edmonton had withdrawn its bid last February due to the global decline in oil prices which badly affected the city's economy.
The CGF Executive Board are due to meet next week in London.
“I have no reason to believe there will be any retraction to host the Games,” South African Sports Ministry spokesperson Esethu Hasana told The New Age.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) have also missed a deadline set by the Commonwealth Games Federation to establish an Organising Committee.
They had been given a cut-off point for the appointment of an Organising Committee of February 29 following a recommendation from the CGF that it be in place within 180 days of the General Assembly.