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BoJo backs publisher’s bid for Olympics access

London Mayor Boris Johnson has added his support to a local newspaper publisher’s bid to gain press passes for next year’s London Olympics.

As recently highlighted on HTFP, all but one of the local newspapers in and around the capital have been refused accreditation for the London 2012 Games.

Now Mr Johnson has told Newsquest’s website that he is backing their bid to change the accreditation rules.

He said in an interview:  “I would say it is not a question of if we will get the reporters in, but how many.”

Attempts by the local media to gain press passes have been hampered by British Olympic Association criteria which decree that applicants must have sent reporters to previous Games.

The Newspaper Society is currently holding talks with the BOA to try to put in place a press pool for the Games which will aim to enable regional and local newspapers to share material.

Now Mr Johnson says he is speaking to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) about the issue.

He said:  “I am very confident these talks will have a positive result. I would say it is not a question of if we will get the reporters in, but how many.”

Mr Johnson’s intervention follows that of Merton borough council leader Stephen Alambritis, who wrote to the BOA asking them to think again.

In a letter to the BOA’s chief executive, Andy Hunt, Coun Alambritis said he was “appalled” when he heard about the snub.

He wrote: “The Games will provide many wonderful opportunities for stories about local people who will be involved in one way or another with the Games, whether attending an event, volunteering their time to carry out necessary Games-related duties, or organising community events to mark this wonderful occasion.

“These stories are at risk of not being told if local journalists are prohibited from directly covering the Games.”

Newsquest South and West London group editor Andrew Parkes said:  “We have been overwhelmed by the fantastic support received for our campaign.

“Local people, our councils, local business and organisations right across London have all backed our bid for a fair allocation of passes.”