Olympic committee dubs Indian cricket photo ban a 'direct attack' on press freedom

The chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has joined journalists in condemning the Indian cricket authorities for banning sections of the press from covering England's cricket tour.

Kevan Gosper has described the ban on four photo agencies as “a direct attack on the freedom of the media” and has called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to intervene.

Last week UK agencies and newspapers joined forces with the banned agencies – Getty Images, Action Images and two Indian companies – and refused to publish photographs from the tour.

On Saturday Gosper said: “The IOC strongly disagrees with these moves by the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India], which we believe are a direct attack on the freedom of the media to report from sporting events, and shows contempt for the sporting public around the world who would otherwise like to follow these important matches.

“Photographers are news gatherers, and must be granted appropriate access to do their job.”

He added: “We would hope that the ICC intervene and that sports administrators refrain from interfering with and placing restrictions on the vitally important role of media to freely report from sporting events.”

With newspapers around the world joining the boycott, the action of the BCCI has also been criticised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

President Jacob Mathew said: “It is simply unacceptable for the Board of Cricket Control for India to take it upon themselves to refuse accreditation to legitimate news agencies, and to tear down the traditional role that independent news media plays in bringing sport news to the public. Photos are an integral part of news coverage.”

In the UK, Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors said: “Editors will be angered by this decision of the BCCI and confused by the motives.

“They just want to do the best job they can for their cricket-loving readers by choosing from the best news material.

“By damaging the ability of the press to cover cricket, the good name of the game also risks damage."

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