London 2012: The equality backlash

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Ready to go: But ethnic media feels isolated from the London 2012 Games.
Ready to go: But ethnic media feels isolated from the London 2012 Games.

Equality and human rights groups launched a series of attacks on the London 2012 Olympics over the weekend, amid continued irritation at organisers' approach to the event.

Protests in London targeted the inclusion of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Games, while a meeting of ethnic media groups complained at their exclusion from the event.

"It is very, very disappointing and quite disgraceful," said Rodney Borde-Kuofie, general manager of Vox Africa, at a British Ethnic Media meeting.

"There are no broadcasters, just two newspapers from ethnic media. The fact that we are not included, we feel somewhat cheated."

Just two ethnic publications – the Jewish Chronicle and The Voice – were accepted for full Olympic accreditation. The Voice was only allowed in after a sustained community campaign.


Ethnic media outlets say the move is particularly misguided given the London bid was centred on the capital's multicultural character.

In 2009, London Olympics' head of diversity and inclusion, Stephen Frost, said it would "benefit our Games" to make them as multicultural as possible.

Meanwhile, human rights demonstrators protested outside the Hilton Park Lane Hotel, where the International Olympic Committee is staying, at the inclusion of certain countries in the Games.

Activists said the Olympic Charter prohibits countries which discriminate against athletes taking part in the Games, but that organisers had ignored its rules.

"The government of Saudi Arabia restricts women's participation in sport and requires women athletes to be accompanied by male guardians," human rights campaign Peter Tatchell said.

"Iran has gender segregation in sport and forces women athletes to entirely cover their bodies, even if they do not wish to do so.

"In 150-plus countries, gay athletes have to hide their sexuality to get selected for the Olympics and are at risk of imprisonment and even execution."

The opening ceremony of the Games takes place on Friday.

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