SJA Notebook: Tokyo media plans will change, Newcastle ban writers’ questions, Baxter wins award and iconic yearbook editor dies

Catch up with our regular column of sports journalists making the news …

IOC finalise plans for Tokyo operations with media capacity expected to be reduced

International Olympic Committee officials are expected to release new-look plans for media at this year’s rescheduled Tokyo Games next month.

Lucia Montanarella, the IOC’s head of press operations, admitted there will be some reduction in capacity during a Q&A with AIPS Media members.

She said: “When it comes to media it is clear that these Games are going to be very different.

“Movement restrictions will take place for the safety of Japanese people, athletes, and everyone who is accredited for the event, not with the purpose of limiting the press, of course, but to ensure the safest Games.

“We redesigned the venues and all the press areas have been adjusted for the requirements of physical distancing, two metres from athletes and one metre from the rest of the stakeholders. By applying these restrictions, we’ve obviously lost an enormous capacity of media positions, especially for photographers.”

Montanarella plans to present a revised ‘playbook’ for press operations on February 4, with an online briefing for IOC members to follow on February 10.

The IOC’s media team will then seek urgent information from national Olympic committees about their predicted numbers of accredited media, a situation that could be made more complicated by talk of UK government quarantines when returning from foreign travel.

It’s also clear that accreditation that grants access to all venues, the prized ‘infinity’ pass, is being discussed, which could have a major impact on how the Games are covered, especially if numbers of travelling journalists are reduced.

Montanarella added: “We are doing whatever we can to make sure that whoever wants to travel to Tokyo will cover the Games but there are some guidelines that you must follow before, during, and after the event in terms of testing and sanitary measures. Those days in which everyone decided what event to attend will not be possible.”

However, there will be no virtual accreditation – as offered by organisers of the forthcoming Australian Open – for those who want to cover the Games remotely, accessing flash quotes and interview opportunities online.

“We are going to prioritise those that are making the effort of travelling, with all the difficulties and investment that this brings, in a way to offer them more opportunities, as we need to have a proper balance,” said Montanarella.

Accreditation for written press and photographers is overseen by the British Olympic Association with news organisations told their allocations – which were already reduced on the numbers received for Rio – in October 2019.

Writers’ not allowed to ask questions in Newcastle press conference

Football writers were left fuming after they were banned from asking questions by Newcastle United press team.

Manager Steve Bruce normally completes separate media engagements with broadcasters and the written media but this week that was rolled into just one press appearance.

And only media from right holders Sky Sports, Premier League Productions, BBC Sport and BBC Look North were allowed to ask questions.

“The idea of preventing written journalists asking questions? I’ve never come across that and it’s not a good look,” said Ciaran Kelly, who covers Newcastle for The Chronicle.

Baxter is writers’ personality of the year

Rob Baxter, who oversaw Exeter Chiefs charge to the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup, has been named the personality of the year by the Rugby Union Writers’ Club.

Duncan Bech, PA’s England rugby correspondent, made the presentation at Sandy Park this month.

Long-time editor of iconic yearbook passes away

The Sports Journalists’ Association learned with sadness that Jack Rollin, a former Daily Telegraph football writer and long-time editor of the iconic Rothmans Football Yearbook died this month. Our thoughts are with Jack’s family.

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