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Wrestling with red tape at the meet

other Updated: May 13, 2010 23:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Passing the buck is the name of the game at the ongoing Senior Asian Wrestling Championship. From day one, covering the Commonwealth Games test event has been nothing short of an ordeal for journalists.

The designated press area is poorly positioned and badly designed, but that is something you find out only if you manage to get into the stadium. On Tuesday, a number of journalists, with passes issued by the Games Organising Committee (OC), were stopped at the entrance by the police because the colour of their passes was ‘wrong’. A journalist was even threatened with arrest. It didn’t matter that the passes were clearly labelled ‘media’.

Apparently the cops at the gate were told that journalists should have a blue pass and not a green one. The idea that they would allow entry on the basis of the colour of the pass seemed absurd.

Consider this exchange:

Policeman: You have a green card, you are not allowed in the media section.

Journalist: But it says media on my card, I work with a paper, and the card was issued by the organising committee.

Policeman: We have been told that the media should have blue passes. Talk to the organisers.

Journalist: Where are the organisers?

Policeman: Inside.

Journalist: So let me talk to them.

Policeman: Get a blue pass, then you can go in and talk to them.

To call it frustrating would be an understatement. According to the Delhi Police, officers stationed at the Games venues have been given special training in courteousness and told to do their duty ‘with a smile’.

Unfortunately, it seems their idea of being courteous is treating everyone like criminals.

And it gets even more absurd. A section has been created for photographers near the field of play, but the lensmen aren’t allowed access to that area, because their passes aren’t of the right colour. Only a few lucky foreign journalists could make their way down, while the rest had to make do with whatever best vantage point they could find.

Among the journalists covering the event is a large contingent from Iran.

They were furious because they were not allowed to bring water bottles inside the press area. Reason? Senior officers have given instructions not to allow it in.

So much for the ‘best Games ever’ promise!