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BP sending writer to cover Olympics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The U.S. Olympic Committee has granted Baptist Press a prestigious writer’s credential with access to all accredited venues, and the news service is sending sports editor Tim Ellsworth to Beijing to cover the Olympic Games and related events.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee, especially knowing that so many media outlets applied and a good number were declined,” Will Hall, executive editor of Baptist Press, said. “The IOC limited the U.S. to 450 accreditation cards for print media, but over 15,000 journalists applied.”

Ellsworth, who serves as director of news and media relations for Union University, will be in China Aug. 6-16 developing features about 10 or so Christian athletes. He’ll follow their participation in the Games and write articles about their faith and the results of their competitions.

“Covering the Beijing Olympics is quite possibly the highlight of my career in journalism,” Ellsworth said. “I’m getting more and more excited as the Games draw closer.

“I’ve never been to China before, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I expect will be a fascinating country, and I’m anxious to witness the spectacle and the celebration surrounding the Olympics themselves,” he added. “I’m also thrilled to be a part of telling the story of how God has worked through the lives of some of the Christian athletes who will be competing.”

Ellsworth will post blog entries a few times each day during his time in China, conveying information about his experiences on the streets, at the Games and in his contacts with athletes and coaches. Access his entries at bpnews.net/olympics.

It’s important for Baptist Press to cover the faith component of the Games, Ellsworth said, because it often is an aspect that is overlooked or downplayed by the mainstream media.

“Several Olympians have powerful testimonies about how God has proven Himself faithful in their lives, and those are stories that need to be told — not so we can laud and exalt the athletes but so we can praise and glory in our great God,” Ellsworth said.

Among the athletes he expects to cover are baseball player Matt LaPorta, marathoner Ryan Hall, BMX racer Donny Robinson, Canadian rower Jane Rumball and cyclist Amber Neben.

Robert Condron, director of media services for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said the Games attracted an unprecedented number of applications for media credentials compared with previous Olympics in other countries. He thinks the increase can be attributed to the mystery that surrounds the Chinese culture.

“The American people do not know too much about China, so they are very interested in China as one of the great countries in the world,” Condron told China Daily. “We are going to see it for real for the first time.”

The total number of press accreditations for the Beijing Games is 5,600, the newspaper said.

“I think credentialing is a tribute to the coverage we have provided since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City,” Hall said, “and is recognition of our unique niche in addressing issues of faith relating to the Games, the athletes and the coaches.”

In addition to Ellsworth, Baptist Press will rely on David McIntyre, a freelance photographer based in Asia, to generate visual images of the Games.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

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