IOC to decide journalists accreditation

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Beijing, Nov 27: The International Olympic Committee - and not Chinese security departments - will have the final say in approving the official accreditation for journalists at next year's Beijing Olympics, a top Beijing Olympic official said on Tuesday.

About 6,000 print journalists and photographers are expected to be officially accredited for the Olympics by the IOC.

A similar number will be officially accredited for TV.

Over and above this, thousands of others are expected to attend the games without accreditation, covering social and political events on the periphery.

Yang Minghui, deputy director of the Beijing Olympic Accreditation Center, said even if applicants failed background checks, that decision could be overridden by the IOC.

"If there's any case in which personnel fail to pass our background check we will refer that information to the IOC," Yang said. "In case there are disputes between the IOC and the local organizing committee, local organizers will comply with the decision from the IOC."

Chinese officials have shown concern that political and religious opponents of China's communist government might enter the country posing as journalists.

In turn, dissident groups have suggested that China is cracking down hard on visa applications, attempting to keep any potential protesters away from the Olympic venues.

Yang said background checks were done in the last three summer Olympics, and he said Beijing was following past practice.

"The ultimate purpose is to assure the safe operation of the Olympic Games," Yang said. "We will be reviewing and examining the background of all the applicants so that we can eliminate those who will pose potential threats to the Olympic Games."

He declined to specify what threats the games might face.

"We want to stage the games in a harmonious manner," he added.

"It is a celebration for everybody. However, if anyone poses a potential threat to the safety, security and order of the Olympic Games we will have to prevent them from coming."

Chinese officials earlier this month denied widely published reports that a database was being kept on foreign journalists who plan to cover the Olympics.

A foreign ministry official said there was no such database.



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