No Rio ride for Zim journalists

Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Olympic Committee have shut the door right in the faces of many sports writers from local media houses who were looking at going to Rio de Janeiro to cover Team Zimbabwe at the 2016 Olympic Games in August.

This follows the news that only one slot has been allotted for Zimbabwean journalists.

This was revealed on Wednesday by the ZOC chief executive, Anna Mguni, who said: “The IOC notified ZOC in May 2015 of its allotted single slot for Press accreditation. After undertaking the due process, ZOC offered a local radio station the slot, and they have assigned their media member to cover the Games. Regrettably there is no additional slot for Zimbabwe.”

ZOC are solely responsible for registering every member of the Zimbabwean delegation (athletes, officials, journalists and dignitaries) for the Summer Olympic Games. And this should come as a bombshell to a number of sports writers from both the local print and electronic media houses who wanted to be part of Team Zimbabwe for the Rio Games.

Their hopes were dashed yesterday with the announcement by ZOC that only one place has been allotted for Zimbabwean journalists for the Rio Games.

In the past Olympic Games, the IOC, through ZOC, traditionally allotted two slots for Zimbabwean journalists — one for electronic media and the other for the print media — but the system has changed for this year’s edition of the Summer Games that are set to run from August 5 to 21 in Brazil. Access to the Olympic Games is restricted by number and function, (it) involves a high level of security, is highly co-ordinated and involves a tightly controlled process. It is unlike access to other sport events such as regional, continental or world cups — it is vastly different.

The Herald Senior Sports Editor, Robson Sharuko, sharply criticised the ZOC for giving themselves the mandate to choose which journalist should be accredited to cover the Rio Games.

“It’s either this is the height of mischief or downright stupidity for the ZOC to suddenly turn themselves into the bosses of the media organisations in this country and decide who should, or should not, be accredited for the Olympic Games in Rio,” Sharuko said.

“There was supposed to be consultation on the issue between the ZOC and the media houses to see how they could handle the issue and a common position being reached without straining the relations between the various parties.

“As The Herald, we have always covered the Olympics, long before some of the people in the ZOC found themselves occupying their influential positions and it’s a shame that they can tell us, through this act, that we don’t deserve to be in Rio.”

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