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Elite athletes at this weekend’s Singapore Marathon will not be left out of pocket or chasing appearance fees and bonus payments, the city-state’s Sports Council (SSC) promised on Thursday.
A financial spat between the SCC and the Singapore Athletics Association had threatened to leave runners chasing their money for up to a week after Sunday’s race — resulting in fears some big names would pull out.
But the SCC relented late on Thursday night, telling Reuters it would in fact disburse money on the day of the race and would liaise directly with the athletes or their managers in order to do so.
“The SSC will reimburse the Singapore Athletics Association for authorised third party expenses subject to appropriate documentation,” director of corporate communications Alvin Hang told Reuters.
“The money that is due to the athletes will be disbursed on the day of the race or earlier if appropriate. If necessary, SSC will liaise directly with the athletes or their agents/managers.”
Earlier on Thursday the SSC said it was planning to withhold payment to the athletics body under a policy of “exercising greater financial prudence” given that the SAA is undergoing a routine financial audit.
However the SAA and athletes’ representatives — including the manager of last year’s winner and 2007 world champion Luke Kibet — warned that a failure to pay athletes immediately after the race would tarnish the event and may deplete the field.
“The punctual payment straight after the race is one of the reasons the stars come,” Kibet’s manager Volker Wagner told local media.
“If the money isn’t paid, the runners may choose another competition in future.”
Athletes would have had to wait up to a week to collect their money before the SSC made a swift u-turn late on Thursday night.
The financial spat had threatened to knock the wind out of the marathon which snakes through Singapore’s hi-tech and historic architecture.
The race has grown from 6,000 runners to 50,000 in seven years.