Africa Village, the hospitality centre for African nations competing in the Olympic Games, has had to close because of unpaid debts.
The decision to close Africa Village because of unpaid bills is nothing to do with the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), the continental governing body claimed today and threatened to take legal action against the French company responsible for managing it.
This is the first time the 53 African nations competing have come together to host one specially dedicated space as a hospitality centre. Many countries like Morocco who claim to have paid their fees upfront were turned away from Africa Village by security guards.
The Village, in Kensington Gardens, was hosting regular music concerts and African medallists were visiting to share their triumphs with fans. But it closed yesterday when the company in charge of security withdrew its support as it was among several suppliers owed a total of £395,000 ($620,000/€500,000).
ANOCA claimed it was because Pixcom, the French-company responsible for its management, had failed to pay its bills on time. “The closure, which is because of a dispute between a French enterprise and some English companies, has impacted our continent most adversely, especially as our only desire, when we initiated this project, was to exhibit Africa’s rich cultural diversity to the English public and visitors from other countries,” ANOCA said in a statement.
“We think that this closure was an arbitrary action, taken without even notifying ANOCA and those who had set up stands, or producing any official document issued by an English court or Administrative authorities.
“It goes without saying that ANOCA has demonstrated all necessary goodwill by making payments for transactions in which we were not at all involved and in doing our possible best to assist the English companies.”
But, early last week, Uganda withdrew from the Village because it claimed it could not afford to pay for a stand.
The Mar-Key group, which provided tents for the Village, said it had been forced to prevent access to them until it received payment.
The Village, which was officially opened last Saturday (August 4) at a special ceremony attended by Britain’s Olympic and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, has proved one of the most popular of attractions set-up in London designed to coincide with the Olympics.