President Klaus opens Czech Olympic House in London

Václav Klaus in the Czech Olympic House, photo: CTK

Czech President Václav Klaus along with Czech government officials and the mayor of the London borough of Islington on Friday opened the Czech House in London, the hub of all things Czech during the 2012 London Olympics. More expensive than the Czech house in Beijing four years ago, it is the venue all kinds of attractions and events for the guests of the Czech Olympic Committee, Czech sports fans, and visitors. Jan Richter reported on the opening ceremony over the phone from London.

Václav Klaus in the Czech Olympic House,  photo: CTK
“The Czech Olympic House in the London borough of Islington is just being officially opened. In the background you may be able to hear the mayor of Islington addressing the audience as we speak. President Klaus arrived late, unfortunately, because of a traffic jam and will be addressing the crowd any minute now. So the opening is in progress right now and it will be followed by a whole range of events including concerts by Monkey Business, Toxique and others, there are exhibitions and the programme will conclude with a live broadcast of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

And who are some of the people there today? Plenty of VIPs I assume...

Petra Kvitová,  photo: CTK
“Well yes, there is President Vaclav Klaus, the Czech ambassador to the UK, Michael Žantovský, there is the mayor of Islington Mr. Chowdhury, the head of the Czech National Olympic Committee Mr. Jirásek and some of the country’s top athletes – I just spoke briefly to the flag-bearer of the Czech Olympic team Petr Koukal and there are many other dignitaries and representatives of companies-ČEZ and the Vítkovice steelworks among others – so it is quite a set-up.”

So I understand that the Czech House is a place where fans will be able to meet some of the country’s top athletes in the course of the Olympics?

“It certainly is, there is actually a wall of fame which is empty now but the organizers hope that as Czech athletes enter the games and possibly win medals they will come here to sign it and celebrate their victory with fans. So yes, Czech athletes will definitely be coming here throughout the games.”

And how much interest has the Czech House generated? Is it attracting a lot of people?

Czech Olympic House,  photo: CTK
“It is quite packed I have to say. The Czech house got quite a reputation thanks to David Černý’s London Booster which is really ingenious and is drawing large crowds. I think there are about 500-600 people attending the opening now and I would say that about half of them are Czech. Some of the Londoners who are here today either work in the area or live in the area and were curious. So I think that in competition with the other national houses or hubs for the Olympics the Czech House is doing pretty well.”