Press Olympic lock-out: council leader backs campaign

Newsquest‘s Wimbledon Guardian has secured the backing of its local council leader in its campaign for local newspapers to gain access to next year’s London Olympics.

The Newham Recorder is the only newspaper in London, excluding the Evening Standard, that has a press pass for next year’s showpiece.

Newsquest, which owns more than 30 papers in the capital, has no passes and has led the campaign to overturn the British Olympic Association’s policy on accreditation for the local press.

Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis wrote to the BOA – the body responsible for assigning the passes – asking them to have a rethink.

‘The Games have rightly been promoted as being for the people, but preventing local journalists from attending this event goes against this great ideal,’he said.

‘Most Londoners will not be able to attend any Olympic events, but they will want to read about them in their local newspapers.

‘The Games will provide many wonderful opportunities for stories about local people who will be involved in one way or another with the Games, whether attending an event, volunteering their time to carry out necessary Games-related duties, or organising community events to mark this wonderful occasion.

‘These stories are at risk of not being told if local journalists are prohibited from directly covering the Games.’

Cllr Alambritis received a response from Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt which was similar in wording to a letter he had already sent to Wimbledon Guardian.

Hunt said: ‘Please be assured should the BOA receive a second allocation of media accreditations from the IOC [International Olympics Committee], local and regional papers, along with other news organisations, will again receive due consideration for allocation.’

The Wimbledon Guardian said that ‘no indication has been given on when, or even if, a second allocation of press passes will be made available”.

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