Exclusive: Africa Village in London closed amid claims of unpaid bills
Africa Village in Kensington Gardens has been closed today amid claims that suppliers are owed £395,000 ($620,000/€500,000) in unpaid bills.
It is unclear whether it will be reopened before the Olympics finish on Sunday (August 12), when the Village had also been due to officially close.
The €3 million (£2.4 million/$3.7 million) Village is a joint initiative by 33 members of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) designed to showcase each country’s different culture.
Among those who had backed it when it was launched is London & Partners, the official promotional organisation for the capital.
The Village features a wide exhibition ground fitted with stands, each covering an area of 16 square metres, a public restaurant, with night shows scheduled throughout the event giving more than 20 African countries, mainly Francophone ones, the opportunity to present themselves to the world.
Morocco had been due to host an event there today but were turned away when they arrived to begin preparing for it.
It was hoped that the Village, which had been personally backed by General Lassana Palenfo, the President of ANOCA, would also help a potential bid from an African country to host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.
The Village’s lead agency, the French-based Pixcom, claimed that it was closed “for technical reasons” and said more details would follow.
Among the companies who have withdrawn their support of the Village because of unpaid bills is one in charge of security, which triggered its closure.
Ivory Coast are among the countries who have a stand at Africa Village
Stands representing all African countries allowed visitors to discover Africa’s culture, through exhibitions, modern and traditional music concerts and folk dances.
A photo exhibition on the history of Africa’s participation in previous Olympic Games is also part of the Village.
But, earlier this week, Uganda withdrew from the Village because it claimed it could not afford to pay for a stand.
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.
Up to 80,000 were expected to visit it but today several hundred people had to be turned away following its closure.
Duncan Mackay | August 9, 2012 | Inside the Games|