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The BCCI has barred photo-only agencies from covering games and made a small number of its own photographs available to media. -File photo by AFP

LONDON: The International Olympic Committee has criticized Indian cricket authorities, accusing them of attacking press freedom by preventing photographers from covering games between India and England.  

IOC Press Commission Chairman Kevan Gosper called on cricket's governing body, the International Cricket Council, to intervene to allow news organizations free access to the cricket games between two of the world's top teams.

International news organizations, including The Associated Press, suspended text and photo coverage of England's cricket tour of India on Wednesday because of new restrictions introduced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

“The IOC strongly disagrees with these moves by the BCCI,” Gosper said in a statement, “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.”

The BCCI has barred photo-only agencies from covering games and made a small number of its own photographs available to media.

Other international news organizations have also suspended coverage. The British press has refused to publish photographs of the match between India and England that began on Thursday in Ahmedabad.

“Photographers are news gatherers, and must be granted appropriate access to do their job,” said Gosper, an Australian who has been prominent in battling for press freedom in sport.

“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.”

The Dubai-based ICC is the global authority administering cricket. The BCCI, with a domestic market of more than one billion people, has become increasingly powerful in the International Cricket Council.

The AP is working with the News Media Coalition, a consortium of international media, to try to resolve the issue.

Cricket authorities are hoping to convince the IOC to include Twenty20 cricket, the shortest form of the game, as an Olympic sport.

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