LONDON, England, August 9 – Africa Village, the continent’s shop window in London during the 2012 Games and its first joint hospitality venue at an Olympics, was closed Thursday due to unpaid debts, organisers said.
The hospitality house, set up in Kensington Gardens in central London, had offered up cultural, sporting and culinary festivities to showcase the continent to athletes, VIPs, business chiefs, sports fans and passers-by.
The venue was sponsored by 20 countries under the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa.
A statement on the village’s website read: “Africa Village temporarily closed until further notice. Sorry.”
The village was closed because of “non-payment of certain suppliers”, one of the organisers told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“The suppliers on the structures and the security teams have not been paid. So they came to take away their property. For the moment it’s the status quo. There are discussions going on,” he said.
The tents that housed most of the village have not been taken down, he added.
“We are absolutely furious,” said Lotfi Labaied of the Tunisian Olympic committee, which had a stand at the village.
“We feel hurt. We spent a lot of money” in getting people to come over from Tunisia, he said.
Several countries have set up a headquarters in the British capital, transforming some of the city’s finest buildings into bases such as “Club France”, “Casa Brasil”, “Casa Italia” or “Sochi Park”.
On the menu are receptions to toast medallists, sporting action on big screens, shows and concerts — not to mention the bars and restaurants serving up national specialities.