OLYMPIC teams will not be using York as their training base for the London 2012 Games after hitting funding problems.
Agreements signed two years ago were due to see sportsmen and women from the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau use facilities in the city for their preparations ahead of the Olympics, which will begin next week.
But City of York Council has now confirmed the teams have pulled out due to financial issues. They were originally expected to use Huntington Stadium, York College and facilities at the city’s two universities for their training camp.
The facilities the teams were set to use had been given pre-Games accreditation, and at the time of the agreement, Olympics supremo Lord Coe described it as “great news for York”.
Gill Cooper, the council’s head of arts, culture and heritage, said: “Like a number of other local authorities, we’re very disappointed some athletes from overseas are unable to attend pre-Games training because of funding pressures.
“York’s sporting facilities have been designated suitable for international-standard training while offering good value, and we hope the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) can resolve this matter with those countries affected by economic pressures.
“While we were looking forward to this culturally-enriching visit, the preparation work has resulted in strong sporting links being forged between York St John University and the University of The Gambia, and has not caused any loss of revenue for York.”
Several other African countries, including Senegal, Uganda and Mozambique, have abandoned their training plans in the UK at the last minute as they are unable to pay the fees involved.
Momodou Demba, chef du mission at Gambia’s National Olympic Committee, said: “Unfortunately, it [the York training camp] did not work out.
“LOCOG promise to take care of the bill, but the fact we would have to put the money up first then be reimbursed does not go down well. It’s quite expensive.”
LOCOG has said it had always made it clear that it would reimburse Olympic committees “at the end” in order to “eliminate fraud and accusations of impropriety”.