The Voice is finally heard

18 Jul

We all know that the ‘greatest show on earth’ is landing in London in nine days time. When it launches, the world’s media will be ready to report on the wide range of athletes and events – all hoping for a record-breaking scoop from the Olympic Stadium.

But this dream was almost destroyed for Britain’s leading black newspaper The Voice earlier this week when it went public on the British Olympic Association’s (BOA) decision to throw its accreditation application out of the window. Instead, the title was given a handful of football passes as a consolation prize. But, who’s interested in this? Hardly anyone by the sounds of it as half a million were withdrawn  from sale last night.

Fortunately, a successful two-day campaign led by Zita Holbourne, member of the Trades Union Congress’ race relations committee, has forced the BOA to reverse its decision.

I appreciate that the BOA’s original decision was likely to have been based on space in the stadium. And, The Voice’s lesser-known media profile and small circulation (approximately 30,000) may also have contributed. But, it’s ludicrous that our home-grown media, which champion our home-grown athletes, were almost banned from our Olympics.

All eyes will be on the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt, later this month who just so happens to be black. Yet, the biggest black paper – which coincidentally turns 30 next month – was nearly banned from connecting with its readers in real-time as he settles into the sprinting blocks. Not to mention Team GB’s Mo Farah (5,000 and 10,000 metres), Phillips Idowu (triple jump) and Perri Shakes-Drayton (400m hurdler).

It’s such a shame that the BOA even questioned whether a black paper should celebrate the achievements of all British, African and Caribbean athletes at a sporting event that’s meant to welcome, and embrace, diversity. Thankfully, for the BOA, this didn’t blow up into a race issue. Otherwise they could’ve had a riot on their hands and then who would’ve protected us? (We’re lacking in security don’t you know?)

Instead, it turned into a political issue. The Voice’s quick-thinking campaign was backed by Mayor Boris Johnson, Tessa Jewell and 2,774 others who signed the online petition.

The Voice’s sports editor Rodney Hinds made a fair point when he said it didn’t make sense for the BOA to accredit numerous journalists from the same title when it meant an entire community would be sidelined. If only they’d had a sixth sense and foreseen this uproar.

Let’s just hope everything continues smoothly for the organisers in the final days before the Gamnes to ensure they are what they should be – fair.

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