'The Voice' silenced: Britain's largest black newspaper barred from Olympic Stadium

Black Britons have expressed outrage that Britain’s longest serving and biggest black newspaper, The Voice, has been denied accreditation to the Olympic Stadium.

In an interview with theGrio, Sports Editor Rodney Hinds says staff at the paper “are stunned by the decision” and the “outpouring of support from our community has been overwhelming.”

The paper’s managing director George Ruddock said “he was extremely disappointed The Voice will not be inside the stadium,” despite the high number of black British athletes on the national team.

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The 2012 Olympics is taking place in East London’s multicultural community and one of the key themes behind London’s Olympic bid was celebrating the diversity of London and the UK. However, when The Voice applied for accreditation they received this reply.

“After careful consideration by the Media Accreditation Committee, we regret to inform you that your application accreditation for the London 2012 Olympic Games has been unsuccessful,” it wrote in a letter to the paper.

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The British Olympics Association (BOA) said it only had space for 400 journalists and told The Voice it would go on a waiting list. “We’ve known about the decision for a while but with the Olympics just days away we can only assume we’ve been sidelined,” says Hinds.

Hinds says the decision was taken by the board of the British Olympics Association and “to his knowledge there are no black people on that board.” He says it important for The Voice to get access because the stadium is the main venue for track and field.

An online petition has been launched on behalf of The Voice, with most saying the decision by the British Olympics Association is “shocking” and a “disgrace.” The story has also been trending on social networking sites.

According to an article on The Voice website, the paper “has been inundated with messages of support from readers, MPs, campaigners, celebrities and journalists who started their career at the newspaper.”

Simon Woolley, chief executive of Operation Black Vote, told The Voice, “I hope that the games authorities will rethink their position. Without The Voice there, there is no black British perspective on the games. The Mirror, The Sun and The Guardian will not report the same story.”

Hinds says the paper is now reaching out to black Members of Parliament and high-profile minority individuals to support their campaign to reverse the decision.

The Voice was founded in 1982 by Jamaican-born accountant Val McCalla. Over the past 30 years, it has been an important training ground for minority journalists, where novice writers are given the opportunity to cut their teeth and develop before landing coveted Fleet Street or broadcast journalist jobs. High-profile black British journalists, such as Rageh Omaar and Dotun Adabayo, have all passed through the paper.

The Voice offices are in London’s Docklands, just a stone’s throw away from Stratford’s Olympic stadium. The paper is the only national weekly black weekly newspaper in the UK.

TheGrio attempted to contact the BOA but received no response.

Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti