The organization in charge of issuing media credentials at the 2012 London Olympics, which begin in 10 days, has denied the request filed by Great Britain’s oldest black newspaper, sparking outrage across the country. The Voice, which is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this year, published an article last week notifying readers that the British Olympic Association, which is in charge of credentialing, had denied its request to cover the Games.
The paper was denied because of an “extraordinary interest and demand from UK media,” the BOA told the paper, even as the organization has “led a high-profile campaign highlighting London’s cosmopolitan culture, and the games itself were won on the back of the city’s rich diversity.” The decision sparked protests on social networks and a petition drive led by activist Zita Holbourne, who told the paper she was “furious” over BOA’s decision:
Holbourne said: “I was furious. There has been a catalogue of errors and issues around the Olympics and this is just one more thing.
“If the BOA are using blanket criteria to assess whether or not a publication is suitable for accreditation has a disproportionate negative impact on smaller and specialist publications and, obviously, The Voice is a specialist publication.
“Given the number of black athletes that are competing in the Olympics that Team GB rely on for Olympic success, no accreditation for the biggest-selling black newspaper is just atrocious.”
The International Olympic Committee has fought to make the London Olympics the most diverse ever held. For the first time in history, every Olympic team has at least one female member after the IOC negotiated the addition of two female athletes to the Saudi Arabian team — the kingdom’s first-ever female representatives. South African runner Oscar Pistorius, meanwhile, will try to become the first person with artificial legs to win a medal since 1906.
But for Britain’s black journalists and the community they serve, the decision harkens back to past fights with British authorities. Lester Holloway, a former Voice reporter, told the paper it reminded him of times when “we had to fight the parliamentary authorities to get accreditation to cover for the House of Commons. There were no black journalists at that time. It was a hard fought battle that went on for number of years and eventually we were allowed in. The fact that we are here again in 2012, shows how behind the times the Olympic authorities are.”
After public outcry and intervention from London Mayor Boris Johnson and other leading politicians, the BOA granted The Voice credentials Wednesday. “I’m delighted that people, some of whom would never have picked up a copy of the Voice, got involved,” Voice managing editor George Ruddock told The Guardian.