Olympics newsletter

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Bocog regrets strong-arm tactics

Elaine Wu, Kristine Kwok and Mary Ann Benitez
July 28,2008

South China Morning Post photographer Felix Wong is led away by Beijing Police.   Photo: AP

Olympics organisers on Saturday admitted Beijing police had acted inappropriately during a scuffle with Hong Kong reporters on Friday and said officials would learn from the experience.

"We deeply regret what happened," said Zhao Dongming, director of the Cultural Activities Department of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

"Perhaps there was some mishandling at the site of the incident. I think after this experience everyone will find a way to do a better job."

Mr Zhao added that police would work on improving internal education and prevent the recurrence of such mayhem.

Several Hong Kong journalists were pushed, dragged and forcibly removed from reporting on the chaos that developed at Olympics ticket offices in Beijing on Friday.

South China Morning Post photographer Felix Wong was detained after accidentally kicking a police officer in the groin while defending himself during a scuffle.

Hong Kong Cable TV reporter Vicky Law Fai-cheung sought medical treatment after he was pushed to the ground by a police officer and suffered an injury to his neck, while a camera carried by a Television Broadcasts cameraman was damaged by police.

Friday's manhandling of journalists came days after two recent incidents in which an Apple Daily reporter's home-return permit was seized and a Ming Pao reporter's digital camera card was confiscated while reporting in the capital.

Zhai Junsheng, director of the Beijing International Media Centre, held a hastily arranged tea meeting last night with about 20 Hong Kong journalists, most of whom had been at the scene of Friday's scuffle.

Mr Zhai said the incident had turned out to be a "good opportunity as it reminded us that there are areas that we need to improve ... and we need to be aware that the challenges ahead could be more serious than we had thought".

Security parameters could be changed during the Games as more incidents were expected to take place, he said.

"In that case, authorities will try to be more scientific about drawing the line and we will inform reporters through various channels," he said, describing Friday's events as "an accident".

Hong Kong Journalists Association acting chairman Jackie Sam said he believed there would probably be more such incidents to come before the Games were over.

He added: "The whole world is focused on China at the moment. It will really be a great shame if they cannot pull their act together."

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