Leave them alone! Olympic athletes should have privacy

— Fennell

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Saturday, July 21, 2012

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BIRMINGHAM, England — President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), Mike Fennnell, reacting to concerns Jamaican journalists have with being barred from accessing the team's training base here said "athletes should be left alone".

"We must respect the fact that when they are in these last few days of preparation, athletes need to be protected from too much other involvement... and as you know if there is too much involvement, not only with the media, but with other things, the same people will complain that we are allowing the athletes to have too much involvement," Fennell said from Kingston yesterday.

"We must allow them the privacy to train and to focus on what they have to do," said the JOA.

Jamaican journalists covering the London Olympic Games have been rueing being barred from having access to the training base, officials and the athletes.

A proposed meeting between the Jamaican Olympic team management and the Jamaican press, with the aim of adressing the matter, is still to come to fruition.

Technical leader Donald Quarrie and JAAA executive Ludlow Watts had promised to set up a meeting with members of the Jamaican press here to iron out an agreement whereby the journalists would get access to both team management and athletes as the pre-Olympics camp continued at the University of Birmingham.

The Jamaica Observer spoke with both Watts and Quarrie on three occasions yesterday, and each time, assurances were given that efforts were being made to set up the confab.

President of the JAAA, Dr Warren Blake, who is also in Birmingham, promised on Thursday to "see what (he) could do to set up the meeting" as well.

On Wednesday members of the Observer team and other Jamaican journalists here were barred from any access to either management of the team or athletes who had showed up for the camp, which this newspaper was told weeks ago was mandatory for all 47 members of the athletics team.

Instead, members of the media were advised about a July 24 media day at the University of Birmingham where members of the press who were granted accreditations would be allowed limited access to a press conference, but was also told that no one-on-one interviews would be accommodated, it was also learned.

On Thursday, a journalist was thrown out of the facility even after the athletes had left and yesterday security around the Monrow stadium facilities were beefed up.

Meanwhile, groups of Jamaican athletes have been seen in the main shopping area, the Bull Ring, over the last two days and have been mingling freely with journalists even posing for photos for their social sites.

On Thursday, a group, including decathlete Maurice Smith, discus throwers Jason Morgan and Allison Randall, shot putter Dorian Scott and quarter-milers Riker Hylton and Errol Nolan was spotted on the road.

Yesterday a smaller group with Nolan and Hylton, as well as 400m hurdlers Josef Robertson and Roxroy Cato as well as long jumper Damion Forbes and sprinter Kemar Bailey-Cole, spent more than an hour in the mall and posed for photos and signed autographs for curious persons including many with Jamaican connections.




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