Last-minute Greek Olympic house was essential, says organiser

Greece's Olympic house at The Carlton Club was necessary to show the country's "true colours" in its economic crisis, the organiser told Event.

The House of Hellens
The House of Hellens

The House of Hellens, based at London's Carlton Club, has been organised by the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (BHCC), rather than government bodies which is usual for Olympic houses.

It has held Greek-themed public events since 28 July but is closing today (3 August) due to a lack of sponsorship which prevented it from remaining open until the end of the Games, according to organisers.

Harris Ikonomopoulos, president of the BHCC, said the Greek government didn't have enough money to organise a house for the 2012 Olympics, so the BHCC stepped in in February to organise a house last-minute.

"Greece has always had a home during the Olympic Games, but this time it couldn't have one. Greece had to have a house, because Greece is the cradle of Olympic sport," he said.

Ikonomopoulos insisted the house was funded by private companies and not the Greek government, as some media reports have suggested. "The club is great value for the little money we managed to put together," he said.

The events included Greek music, talks, forums and medal presentations. The final event this morning is an open discussion about the Greek Economy with speakers including Vicki Pryce, former joint head of the UK Government Economic Service.

The BHCC took over all of the club's event rooms and 14 rooms for accommodation for staff, officials from the Olympic Hellenic Committee and guests like the High Priestess of the Olympic Flame.

Ikonomopoulos told Event the house had been a success considering Greece's current economic difficulties: "We have touched a number of topics of high interest and we don't hesitate to touch sensitive issues."

He added: "In times of distress you don't hide, you show your true colours and abilities and answer any questions that you can. We should promote whatever good there is [in Greece] acknowledge whatever bad there is and try to correct it."

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