London – Greek Olympic officials have been criticized for lavish spending on their London visit, hiring the exclusive Carlton Club for £150,000. In contrast, Greek athletes were asked to return their pocket money if they left the Olympic Village early.
The disparity between the Greek elite and the ordinary citizen was highlighted once again in the furore that has erupted over the lavish spending by Greek Olympic officials in London. Despite the Greek state hovering on the brink of bankruptcy, the Independent reported £150,000 was spent to hire the Carlton Club, and turn it into the House of Hellenes.
The Greek Embassy in London defended the choice of venue by saying it was the only place available at short notice. The Hellenic Chamber of Commerce said it intended “to entertain guests and promote the reconstruction of the Greek economy” by attracting foreign investors.
Private firms contributed £75,000 towards the costs, with most of the balance made up from lottery cash.
However, whilst the officials live the high life the athletes themselves were given €300 pocket money for their stay in London to cover daily expenses. To save some money, the Hellenic Olympic Committee then asked athletes to repay half of the allowance if they left the Olympic Village earlier than scheduled.
According to Keep Talking Greece public opinion persuaded officials to retract their request for the pocket money to be returned; there was a backlash of opinion on the difference between the way the officials treated themselves and the way they treated athletes.