Written by The Gleaner Posted On: Sunday, 22 July 2012
BIRMINGHAM, England: President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Dr Warren Blake, yesterday defended the limited media access and heavy security around members of the Jamaican Olympic team here.
Members of the team have been largely inaccessible at their University of Birmingham pre-Olympics training base with Jamaican and international media professionals kept at arm's length with closed door training sessions and interview bans.
Blake, who was among a small group of officials and team members who worshipped at the Cathedral Church of St Phillip in Birmingham City Centre yesterday, said the move is geared at helping the athletes to be in the best possible condition to perform well at the Olympic Games, which starts this weekend.
Preparation and focus
"Simply put, the security situation is both for the personal safety of the athletes and their privacy," Blake told The Sunday Gleaner, while approximately 30 security guards kept a close watch on the team and the venue.
"In Jamaica, we expect our athletes to do well and if they are constantly bombarded by the media; not just local media, but also international media, then they won't have a chance to focus on what they are really here for and that is to do their final training and preparation and focus on what is really important, which is to win the medals in London," Blake added.
"If they are constantly being diverted by the media; and there are a host of media that are interested in our athletes, they will never get the chance to settle down," said Blake.
His was a viewpoint shared by Birmingham City Council's assistant director of sport and events Steve Hollingsworth, who was instrumental in bringing the team to the second-largest city in England.
"The Jamaican management wanted a top camp and that is what we have provided to them and we are happy to be satisfying their expectations," Hollingsworth noted.
"The management wanted a secure camp and that is what we have delivered to them. There is a full open day to the media, where access will be granted," said Hollingsworth.
The team will host a 'Media Day' on Tuesday, where athletes and officials will be made available to members of the media for interview opportunities.