British journalists get 240 accreditations for 2008 Olympics

Britain's sports journalists have been given 240 accreditations — a 20 per cent increase on the original allocation — for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ten thousand journalists from across the world will have official permission to cover the games in what is expected to be the biggest influx of foreign news media in the history of the People's Republic of China.

Ian Cole, spokesman for the Sports Journalists' Association, said the increase in accreditations recognised the fact Britain had more interest in the games because London is to be the host city in 2012.

Daily Mail athletics correspondent Neil Wilson has just returned from covering the world junior athletics championships in Beijing. He said he experienced severe visa difficulties entering China.

He said: "We must hope that an IOC accreditation will be a visa in itself, as they promise, because obtaining a visa otherwise can be horrendously timeconsuming.

"British journalists at the world junior championships suffered overbearing bureaucracy and a steadfast refusal to release the visa until the embassy had received a letter of welcome from its government."

Wilson said that even the personal intervention of Lamine Diack, president of athletics' world body the IAAF failed to ease matters.

Correspondents from The Times and the Mail were only given accreditation on the last possible day before departure — and were charged a "rush fee".

The world's media are to be housed in three villages at the 2008 games, in 6,000 rooms around 20 minutes from the Olympic centre.

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