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Beijing Olympics: BBC to send 437 staff to China

July 2, 2008

By Murray Wardrop
The Telegraph (UK)
June 30, 2008

The BBC has recruited the unlikely pairing of news anchorman Huw
Edwards and singer Damon Albarn to help meet the "unique challenge"
of covering this summer's Beijing Olympics.

Edwards is among 437 staff being sent to Beijing as the BBC attempts
to balance the needs of news and sport.

TV presenter Adrian Chiles is to host the breakfast slot, and former
gymnast Gabby Logan will front the prime-time highlights during 17
days of round-the-clock coverage.

The BBC said the decision to send Edwards, the anchor of the 10
o'clock news, reflected the importance of the games as a political
and cultural event.

Speaking about the editorial challenges posed by the games, Edwards
said: "It is way beyond just a brilliant sporting spectacle.

"There are several added dimensions, even before you start talking
about possible issues during the games.

"The more you get into it, the more you're walloped by another
potential issue."

BBC executives have had to consider the ability of their main studio
hosts to cover political and cultural stories as well as the sport.

They said they have had assurances from Chinese officials that they
would not face restrictions on coverage.

Even former athletes recruited to give their expert views have had to
consider how they might have to deal with protests on issues such as
Tibet or human rights.

The BBC will deliver 2,750 hours of coverage from 28 Olympic sports
across 31 venues from August 8.

Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn from the band Gorillaz have created
the title sequence and music for the BBC's Olympic coverage.

The animation is based on the traditional Chinese folklore tale
"Journey to the West," which the pair staged as an opera last year.
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