London 2012: Greek Olympic officials spend thousands on exclusive club despite country's dire economy

 

While Greece continues to suffer from severe economic conditions Olympic officials from the country are spending thousands of pounds on an exclusive private members' club in London.

After Greece received a second eurozone bailout of €130 billion, it is using tens of thousands of euros to cover some of the cost of hiring the entire Carlton Club in St James’s.

In stark contrast to riots seen on the streets of Athens, for one week London’s “oldest, most elite, and most important of all Conservative clubs” is being hired for £150,000 to become the House of Hellenes.

There is £75,000 being contributed by private firms, but most of the balance is topped up with Greek lottery cash, organisers said. Sponsors, politicians and officials will mingle with athletes at the club where signature dishes include Dover sole and chateaubriand.

Organisers want to promote “Greece’s culture, history, political and economic developments”.

The club is usually home to Conservative party members but is closed for a month in the summer. Greece’s sports federations, from synchronised swimming to athletics and shooting have all been affected by budget cuts and there were fears some of the squad would have to pull  out of London. The Hellenic Swimming Federation made a cut of nearly 40 per cent to the Olympic squad and the professional water polo body warned last year that athletes were quitting sport because they no longer received public funding.

The British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, which is running the event, said it hoped to attract foreign investment “to entertain guests and promote the reconstruction of the Greek economy”.

The House of Hellenes opened at the weekend and will be open from 11am to 11pm until Friday. Some of the money was provided by the Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics, the part-state owned lottery company.

The Greek embassy in London said the reason the Carlton Club was booked was that it was the only venue available at such short notice following the election of the new government. The first choice apparently would have been the more modestly priced Hellenic Centre in Marylebone, available from £1,800 a day.

Harris Ikonomopoulos, British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce Greek president, said: “It was the duty of the private sector to organise and host the national Olympic home even for only a part of the Games.

“Greece is not only the cradle of Olympism and democracy but also the mother of pan-European ideals. Carlton Club is a landmark location and an important site where many critical decisions were taken which were instrumental for the formation of the modern Greek state in the 19th century.”

But today an ex-pat Greek living in London said officials should be “setting a more modest example”.

Spyro Van Leemnen, 28, from Hackney, and member of the Standard’s mayoral election panel, said: “It’s another lavish project put together by Greek millionaires and bureaucrats that only aims to boost their own egos.

“Now Greek families are left to pay for the bloated bill. I came back from Greece three days ago and the situation for the people there is unbearable.

“Half of the young population are unemployed and even the ones with jobs hardly earn 400 euros a month. Even children are refused medication and vital treatment in public hospitals due to the cuts.”

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine