The decision to deny journalists from Britain’s biggest and longest-serving black newspaper access to the Olympic Stadium has sparked a social media storm after The Voice’s editor made its rejection public.
A petition has been launched on behalf of The Voice’s journalists and the decision by the British Olympics Association has been derided as “shocking” and “unbelievable” on social media sites.
Zita Holbourne the co-founder of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) set up the petition, after finding the decision “outrageous.”
“Voice readers have a big interest in the Olympics” she told The Huffington Post UK.
“There are many black athletes in team UK and there is also a big Caribbean community here interested in Caribbean teams.
“Black athletes in Great Britain have contributed tremendously to British sport – why block black press?”
Her words were echoed by Rodney Hinds, sports editor at The Voice. This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Voice and the decision to deny accreditation has been announced on a week the newspaper is putting out an 18-page Olympic supplement.
Hinds told The Huffington Post UK: “London 2012 was supposed to be a celebration of Britain’s diversity, and we wanted to play a part in that by reporting stories from the frontline not on the outside looking in.”
Talking about the huge response to the news, Hinds, who has worked at The Voice for 12 years, said:
“This is part of a wider problem, and I think that’s what has touched a nerve with people. The media in Britain already suffers from a huge lack of diversity, and London 2012 was the perfect opportunity to level the playing field, but we haven’t been given a chance.
“There is a certain degree of irony that black athletes will be so prominent at the Olympics, but black journalists have to take the back seat.
“If we’re good enough to compete, shouldn’t we be good enough to report, too? I think we all believed those days when black people were only valued for their sporting prowess were over.”
In an article on their website, The Voice listed the reasons BOA gave for refusing their journalists accreditation.
“The extraordinary interest and demand from UK media saw the British Olympic Association (BOA) receive more than 3,000 requests for the approximately 400 accreditations available.
“After careful consideration by the Media Accreditation Committee, we regret to inform you that your application for accreditation for the London 2012 Olympic Games has been unsuccessful.”
The Voice has now automatically been added to a waiting list in case any granted accreditations are returned
Its Editor and Managing Director George Ruddock called the decision to block their entry from the site “a slap in the face”
The Huffington Post UK attempted to contact the BOA but received no response.