President Bush whacked by Olympic camera ban

From Barry Newcombe, SJA Chairman
Beijing, Tuesday:
Even the US President, George W Bush, it seems, cannot escape the strict rules imposed by the International Olympic Committee on who films what and where when the Olympics are in session.

President Bush will be accompanied by a CNN TV crew when he flies in to play his personal part in watching the Opening Ceremony, but CNN will not be able to film on Olympic territory, such as competition venues and the Athletes’ Village. The IOC, ever mindful of its big TV deal with rival American broadcaster NBC, would not grant CNN additional accreditation. The Olympic Green, the city centre site containing a large number of competitions, counts as a venue as well.

The IOC emphasised who can film where after being concerned at the number of cameras being seen in the Olympic Village where athlete privacy is important. The same strictures will apply in the demanding work area of the media Mixed Zones, through which all athletes must proceed after competition. Usually they will pause at length for television and radio but all too often they bypass the written press.

In this era of mini cameras in everyone’s mobile phones, policing these no filming rules is more difficult than ever before. Writers were reminded today that there can be no videos in the press area and no live interviews on mobile phones in the Mixed Zones or at press conferences.

The Mixed Zone is notorious for the scrambles which often ensue in the search for quotable quotes – and the British Olympic minders who will be in these key areas will wear clear identity armbands which contain their picture and title.

â–¡ One head of state who looks like he will be giving the Opening Ceremony a miss is Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean President was turned back at Chinese Customs when he tried to enter the country in Hong Kong on Sunday.

â–¡ Smog Blog: Blue Skies 1, Smog 2. There were reports of more weather-seeding rockets being fired off tonight.

â–¡ Thursday’s men’s football match between Brazil and Belgium is commanding attention from Beijing’s Belgian community. “There are about 3,000 Belgians living in China and many of them say they will turn up to watch,” said one. The fact that
Ronaldinho is expected to make his Olympic debut for Brazil, who have never won the tournament, will help swell the crowd as well.

â–¡ European-based hacks who have to fly for up to 10 hours to reach Beijing and the Main Press Center are being helped to recover by a team of Chinese massage experts.

“The way their shoulders and backs are says that they spend a lot of time on the computer,”said one of the masseurs who give their services for free.

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