Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Africa Village Has Been Shut Down

Richard Spiropoulos, PANA TV executive producer at the Africa Village sends in this report:
"The Olympic Africa Village inside London’s Hyde Park has been shut down until further notice. At the moment no one seems to know when the Village will be re-opened. With just four days left until the end of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, it really is a case of extraordinarily bad timing.
The Africa Village is an initiative of ANOCA, an association of African Olympic Committees. The London 2012 Olympic Games is the first time African nations have a unique place to host and welcome their athletes and visitors.
According to sources questioned at the scene, it wasn’t a security scare or a health violation that shut down what until just yesterday had been a triumph for ANOCA and the entire continent…
…And it wasn’t the seven Cameroonian athletes who suddenly went missing on Tuesday. The problem boiled down to one thing and one thing only - money.
According to organizers who refused to go public, people simply weren’t getting paid. PANA Television talked to staff that hadn’t been paid since the village opened on July 28th.

The French-based company Pixcom, which seems to be in charge inside the Africa Village, claimed that it was closed "for technical reasons" and that details would follow.

So with facilities including toilets shut down, no power, and limited security personnel, the Africa Village has had to shut its doors to the public, while the organizers are meeting behind closed doors to decide where to go from here.

A press release is expected later today. Many people are speculating that the village may open again as quickly as tomorrow, but others aren’t crossing their fingers.

Today was supposed to be Morocco day, and the North African nation had prepared a bonanza to showcase their country, featuring the finest Moroccan jewelry, choice fabrics, dancers and singers who had rehearsed extensively to represent their country with pride.
Instead, they arrived at a Village with locked gates and stone-faced security guards.
According to sources in the kitchens, Moroccan chefs had also prepared a superb feast to give visitors a real taste of Morocco.

Now all that food is going to waste and a lot of angry visitors are going home, including visitors from Britain and around the world who had skipped work or taken a day off not just to experience Africa inside London’s Hyde Park, but also to enjoy the unity, sportsmanship and camaraderie that had been on full display since the Africa Village threw its doors open.
Throughout the games, the Africa Village has been a celebration of a continent poised to be the next great thing and it seemed to have been running impeccably.

The general belief was that the success of the village could become a precursor for an African nation to host the Olympics and Paralympics in the very near future.

The sudden turn of events seems to have come out of nowhere and has people scratching their heads, clueless.
Many people are hoping that it’s just a temporary snafu and it will be back to business as usual come Thursday, but others are calling it a disaster and an embarrassment for Africa, and something they had expected all along.
We at PANA TV are hoping the naysayers are all proved wrong – and that music and the festival kick off again to celebrate Morocco Day on Thursday."

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