Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jamaican Journalist Barred From J'Can Athletes Training Camp

Birmingham officials with the help of the Jamaican track and field officials have locked out the Jamaican media from the training camp being staged at the University of Birmingham in preparation for the Olympic Games that starts in eight days in London.

Despite assurances from Donald Quarrie, Technical Head of the Jamaican track and field team that the Jamaican journalists would be given consideration, the jamaica Observer team was told on Tuesday they would have to wait until the July 24, for a so-called media day to get access to the Jamaican athletes.

In stark contrast, the American team which is sharing the same training facilities as the Jamaicans, will be hosting daily press briefings with their athletes. The USTAF's website said they would make two athletes available each day and the names would be posted a day in advance.

Also on Tuesday morning the USTAF also invited dozens of locals to an open training session at the stadium.
At a Monday Exchange with the Observer staff two weeks ago, Quarrie had given the assurance that given the good relations between the Jamaican media and the athletics body, exceptions will be made as long as the media members recognised their boundaries and did not get in the way of the athletes or the coaches.

On Tuesday morning we were told by Jenna Hadley, the Olympics communications officer for the University of Birmingham that reporters would not be allowed access, but if the Jamaican officials gave the go-ahead then they would reconsider.

After finding the heavily guarded premises where the team was staying and requesting that messages be sent to either Quarrie or Ludlow Watts, the treasurer for the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), the Observer news team was again rebuffed.

After passing the message trough at least three different persons — the guards at the gate, to their supervisor and then Hadley again.

This time, with the cold rain increasing in intensity, the security supervisor called Hadley in our presence. She allegedly called Watts, who she then told the supervisor we would not have access until July 24.
Later in the day when the Observer team returned to the accommodation, we were advised by a man who said he was a security specialist that it would be better off if we did not stay there, as it "may aggravate situation", and advised us to contact someone in the Association of Jamaicans National (Birmingham) who should be able to assist.