Blog | Why is the UK’s leading Black newspaper denied access to the Olympic Stadium?

Today the UK’s leading black newspaper, The Voice, announced that they have been denied access to the Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 Games. While happy to exploit the sporting achievements of black athletes, the British Olympic Association are now literally unwilling to give black people a voice, argues Samantha Asumadu.

Blogs, Ceasefire Bites, New in Ceasefire, Olympics Watch, Politics - Posted on Saturday, July 14, 2012 19:43 - 1 Comment

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Travellers were greeted with a waxwork figure of Usain Bolt as they arrived at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 yesterday. The figure is due to take its place in Madame Tussauds but fans were given the chance to pose with the sporting hero as the airport welcomes record numbers of passengers arriving for the Olympics.

Yesterday employment law was rewritten and a precedent was set as John Terry was acquitted of the racist abuse of Anton Ferdinand.

Today the UK’s leading black newspaper, The Voice, announced that they have been denied access to the Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 Games. The Voice was one of the few newspapers willing to divert from the mainstream narrative – propagated by the Daily Mail etc – of feckless black aggressive youths being solely responsible during the UK riots. Are they now being punished?

The Voice, which celebrates its 30-year anniversary milestone this August, had intended to bring London 2012 coverage of Team GB as well as the exploits of athletes from Africa and the Caribbean, including arguably the world’s biggest sportsman, Usain Bolt.

With these two careless decisions a new line has been drawn in the UK and its relations with its black citizens. While happy to exploit the sporting achievements of black athletes, the British Olympic Association are now literally unwilling to give black people a voice.

But is it surprising? We have a Mayor who dismissed the MacPherson report (after Stephen Lawrence’s murder) with these words ‘we could probably achieve the same results, if not better, if we axed large chunks of the anti-racism industry, stopping taxing so many people with the threat of legal action, and left a bit more of the struggle against racism to tolerance and good manners.’ (Lend me your ears p212)  and has the following statistics as his legacy

• No African or Muslim political advisers representing a City that is 40% non white
• Has not had a single public meeting on the issue of race equality policy in the GLA in 4 yrs
• Ended the popular schools Black History Month Scholar competition (funded by Accenture not the taxpayer)
• Cut funding, forcing closure of critically important local borough-based police consultative groups
• Cut funding to Africa Day, the anti racist Rise festival and St Patrick’s day celebrating London’s diversity
• On taking over control of the MPS abolished all MPA race equality policy and consultative forums
• Has seen the number of black youth going to jail in London increase by 100% during his term
• Stopped publishing detailed race equality workforce figures to hide reduced number of black people employed
• Concluded that ethnic representation in the police force was not necessary to achieve good community relations
• In 2008 promised 1000 black mentors to combat youth violence and in 2012 had delivered just 56

In its statement, The Voice said it “ha[d] been denied access to the Olympic Stadium for this month’s London 2012 extravaganza”.

This is after the British Olympic Association launched an elaborate and successful campaign to highlight London’s unique cosmopolitan culture as a convincing reason for it to host the Games.

However, having applied for accreditation for ‘the greatest show on earth’, the country’s number one publication for the African-Caribbean community in the United Kingdom received this reply from the British Olympic Association.

‘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 Olympics has been beset with scandals, from officials selling tickets with huge markups to surface-to-air missiles being installed without consultation or consent on the roofs of residents homes in East London.

This week has brought news that G4S, the security giant who had won the Olympics security contract, have not employed enough people, which means we will see 13,500 armed soldiers stationed at the Games. The company claimed it accepted “its responsibility for the additional cost of the increased military deployment resulting from the shortfall in workforce delivery”.

However with this apartheid ruling by the BOA, it is Black Britons that have been slapped in the face, yet again. It could have gone under the radar. However, The Voice rightly published a report today to express their shock and disbelief.

How could a 30-year-old paper designed to give a voice to black people, a publication that has campaigned against inequality and championed good causes be denied access to arguably Britain’s biggest sporting event ever?

The BOA’s decision is yet another indication of the lack of knowledge or understanding of the significance of papers such as The Voice but also an unwillingness to understand a group already victim to media under-represention (and misrepresentation) far too often, and for far too long.

(Statistics: Lee Jasper 2012 www.leejasper.com)

Update 18/07/2012: Following intense media and public pressure (including interventions by senior politicians and public figures, as well as an online petition), the British Olympic Association announced a U-turn on its stance, granting the Voice full accreditation to cover the London 2012 games.

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Samantha Asumadu

Samantha Asumadu is a British film director, producer and journalist. She has worked mainly in the Great Lakes region of Africa doing news features and documentaries, and also campaigns on democracy and safety issues. She's on Twitter @honestlyAbroad.

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Gambit
Jul 30, 2012 13:03

Not surprised one bit, and they say rascism has improved in the UK lol

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