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Billed in advance as a triumph, the legacy of the Doha world road race championships is a concerning one. Over 100 staff are still awaiting payments for their work during the race last October, and many are reportedly losing hope of ever being paid.
The world championships was awarded to Qatar in September 2012, following the withdrawal of other applicants. The races were held between October 9 and 16 last year but, according to the Doha News, 130 workers on temporary contracts during the event have not been given what was promised.
They worked in a variety of roles, including journalists, photographers, drivers and catering staff. They were all employed by the race’s local organising committee and had official contracts, many lasting for more than a month. They have been told that the delays are due to ‘unforeseen reasons.’
The Doha News reports that 130 people are affected, and spoke to one unidentified individual who said he was owed QR6,000 [approx. 2217AUS/1470 euro/1648 USD] for 13 days’ work.
He told the newspaper that many of those affected had originally met to discuss the issue and possible actions. Among the courses of action considered were official complaints to the Labour Court and the police, but that they gradually gave up trying. He said that many had ‘lost hope’ of ever being paid.
The issue of late or non-existing payments is a long-standing problem in Qatar and across the Gulf. Despite a new Wage Protection System introduced in August 2015 in Qatar, the problem remains.
“I went to the Qatar Sports Club (the LOC admin base) in person twice, but I always got the same response – insh’Allah (God willing),” he told the Doha News.
He also said that efforts to contact UCI management via email, Whatsapp and phone over the past several weeks proved fruitless.
CyclingTips spoke to a UCI spokesman on Monday. He said that the matter is being looked into at present.
In December of last year the men and women’s Tour of Qatar was unexpectedly cancelled by the race organisers. The men’s race had been run since 2002 and was scheduled to join the UCI WorldTour for the first time in 2017. The women’s event was introduced in 2009.
“It is understood the decision follows difficulty attracting sponsor financial support,” said the UCI at the time.
The Doha News quoted another world championship employee, who described in an email to colleagues the hardship caused by the lack of payment.
“It has affected the lives of many of us and put us in a situation which is psychologically stressful – cancellation or postponement of personal or professional projects, difficulties to pay monthly rentals and/or loans, and unnecessary stress and worries.”
According to this email, they had been told by administration staff that the local organising committee had “no money left.”
In March the organisers sent an email to those awaiting payment, saying that the matter would be resolved soon.
“We would like to apologize for the delay in paying your financial dues due to unforeseen reasons by the organizing committee,” the email said.
“We would like to assure you that once we receive the financial resource dedicated for these payments, which we are expecting shortly, we will immediately pay your financial dues.”
However, at this point in time, nothing has been paid. And while some of those left waiting were told before that the Qatari government would eventually cover what is owed, there is no sign of that happening. Many have lost confidence that they will ever receive what is due.
The Doha News said that it had attempted to contact several individuals from the local organising committee in recent weeks, but that no one had replied.
It also stated there was zero response from the UCI itself plus the Qatari Ministry of Culture and Sports.
Qatar is the world’s richest country, with its GDP per capita being $129,726 USD.