Exclusive: Kenya to set up Olympic House in Stratford

Kenya will use the East Thames building in Stratford as its 'house' for the Olympic Games, Event can exclusively reveal.

Exclusive: Kenya to set up Olympic House in Stratford
Exclusive: Kenya to set up Olympic House in Stratford

The Kenya High Commission is in the final stages of negotiations with the venue, which overlooks the Olympic Park and is the headquarters for housing association and regeneration charity East Thames.

A spokesperson for East Thames told Event the contract was "likely to be signed by the end of the day (25 April)" for Kenya to hire the venue during the Games.

Kenyan businesses and community groups will set up stalls at the Olympic house to showcase the country’s culture and the investors supporting Kenya’s Olympic team. Kenya House will also include a restaurant serving Kenyan cuisine and beer.

The Kenyan High Comission said it is working with Locog to bring the country’s athletes to the house every other day for interviews. It also hopes to hold celebrations when Kenya achieves highly in the Games.

East Thames’s rooftop terrace, which overlooks the Olympic Stadium and holds 100 people standing, will hold open-air interviews with athletes and officials during the day and concerts and entertainment in the evening.

Thuita Mwangi, foreign affairs permanent secretary to Kenya, recently visited the venue. He said Kenya House would demonstrate the country’s heritage and economic progress within Africa: "We have come a long way on the international scene," he said. "We have been involved in peace keeping efforts, grown as opinion leaders and helped to shape the destiny of the region."

The Kenya Commercial Bank has committed to fund Kenya House, and Mwangi said other private stakeholders have showed interest.

The East Thames building sits at 29-35 West Ham Lane and opened in 2008. It also offers a large conference space for up to 100 people, five smaller rooms, a foyer and gallery space and the rooftop balcony. Up to 1,100sqm of space in the venue is still available for hire during the Olympics.

June Barnes, chief executive of East Thames, said: "We are really excited that Kenya House is coming to East Thames’ offices. We are right in the heart of Stratford, just a stone's throw from the Olympic Stadium, which is exciting enough, but to have the buzz of the Kenyan team here in the building will be fantastic."

It seems that other individual African nations could follow suit by establish Olympic houses. Heino Vockrodt, commercial director of Sacoma, a charity providing support to people and businesses from Saharan Africa in the UK, said: "We held a launch event last August for all the African nations we work with, encouraging them to have an Olympic house. It turns out that Kenya is the only one who is going ahead at the moment. But now Kenya’s doing it, the others may too."

Sacoma has also booked loungues at this summer's Scipmylo festival on Hackney Marshes to showcase Kenyan businesses and culture at the event which coincides with the Games.

Last October, Event revealed The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) will be based at London's Kensington Gardens for the Olympics.

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