Over the last several days there has been quite an uproar surrounding the report of a ban on Bibles at the Beijing Olympics. In a new development, Mr. Francesco Liello, the journalist who originally reported that a ban was in place, has told CNA that a miscommunication about a Bible ban was not possible given the dossier he received.
The Beijing Olympic Planning Committee claims that the whole issue is the result of a miscommunication between Mr. Liello and a member of the organizing committee. Mr. Liello disputes that claim, saying that Bibles were banned, albeit only for one day.
A translation of Mr. Liello’s letter explaining what happened follows:
Dear Mr. Director,
I am the author of the story about the Bible in the Olympics.
I do not believe that there was any "miscommunication" when a sheet of paper came attached to the appendix of the dossier that was distributed during the second "World Press Briefing".
The paper's title says:
Items Prohibited and Restricted in Olympic Venues (For Accredited Personnel)
In the paragraph: “1. Items Prohibited”, Number (7) reads: “Pamphlets and materials used for any religious or political activity or display.”
I believe that when there is a reference to religious activity, the Bible is fully included in this. And moreover under that same [rule] even a Cross on the chest could be regarded as forbidden material.
The next day, a reviewed version arrived under the title "For Media Personnel at Venues" (and not for Accredited media, as it was in the original version.)
Number (7) is listed as (8) and now forbids: “Promotional materials used for any religious or political activity.”
To the question of how the organizers understand “Promotional materials,” the person responsible for security said he was not in a position to respond, referring us to the Chinese legislation. Therefore, he did not clarify if the Bible could be regarded as promotional material. Since the term "display" was eliminated, obviously crosses or other exposed symbols are not forbidden any more.
Therefore, I don't believe there was any kind of miscommunication between myself (the "Italian Journalist" mentioned, even though there were several [journalists] there and not just me) and the representative of the organizing committee.
La Gazzetta dello Sport