The Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) strongly rejects the attempt by Graphic reporter Ben Neequaye to cast the GOC in a bad light by falsely claiming that we indicated that “Gov’t spent $750,000 on Rio 2016”, at our Press Conference on Friday, 16th September, 2016.
The story lead also contradicted the headline which actually stated that, “The Chef de Mission of Ghana at the Rio Olympic Games, Chris Essilfie, has revealed that the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) submitted a budget of $750,000 to the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS) for their preparations and participation at the competition.”
We state categorically that Rio 2016 Chef de Mission, Chris Essilfie, never said that “Government spent $750,000 on Ghana’s preparation and participation in Rio 2016,” at the press conference.
Indeed, at the GOC Press Conference last Friday, Mr. Essilfie clearly stated that the GOC presented an initial budget of about $750,000 to the Ministry of Youth and Sports earlier in the process, when the GOC’s collation of information from the various sports federations suggested that the Ghana contingent might comprise 25 athletes. But, he added that the amount was reviewed downward after only 16 Ghanaian athletes qualified for the Games.
In fact, at the press conference, the GOC went further to indicate that they had received no money directly from Government, although they appreciated the efforts of the Minister that resulted in GNPC providing the $120,000 needed to pay for the athletes and officials’ plane tickets to Rio, as well as the further corporate sector solicitation by the Minister that enabled the Ministry to directly pay the athletes and officials’ per diems (that totaled about $80,000).
Indeed, it was the indication that Government had not directly paid any money for the Games that led to the question about whether a budget had been given to Government, and how much that was. Given the clarity of its presentation at the press conference, the GOC considers the Graphic report to be deliberate, malicious and deceptive, and calculated to make it seem as though the Government had spent excessively on the Olympics.
For the record, it is absolutely false for the Graphic reporter to have indicated, first, that Government spent $750,000 on Team Ghana at the Games and, second, that the GOC indicated so.
The timing of this story is particularly worrying given that the GOC, through its officials, had actively spoken about the budget for Rio 2016 prior, during and after the team’s departure for the Games.
We therefore do not understand why a reputable national newspaper like the Graphic will seek to further muddy the waters by claiming government ended up spending about $750,000 on the team despite the fact that only 16 athletes ended up qualifying for the Games.
In light of the damage caused to the image of the GOC because of this publication, we strongly urge you to publish our rejoinder and give it the same prominence you gave the first story.
We will like to take the opportunity to also point out a few other concerns we have had with some recent Graphic and Graphic Sports publications, where reporters have failed to cover or solicit our side of the story.
For instance, on 14th September, 2016, Graphic reporter Chris Nunoo wrote a story with the caption “Nunoo Mensah dares GOC”. Click on the link below for the story:
This is another recent story:
Both stories have misstatements of fact in them, and it was most regrettable that the GOC was not contacted to respond to any of the allegations made in the stories. Neither was it stated in the stories that any attempt was made to contact the GOC for its side of either story.
Another case in point was when your reporter Ben Neequaye only reported Mr. Ben Nunoo-Mensah’s side of the story after the GOC’s last Ordinary Congress on 18th December, 2015.
After the GOC leadership had successfully rebutted claims by Mr. Nunoo Mensah that the financial statements for 2015 had not been presented to members of the General Assembly prior to the congress with concrete evidence to the contrary on the floor of congress, your reporter subsequently wrote a story with the caption “Nunoo Mensah holds GOC to account.”
Again, he did not cover the GOC’s side of the story. It is important to point out that your reporter was present at congress and should therefore have known that GOC members received the documents in the constitutionally required time before congress; he should have known this because when Mr. Nunoo Mensah made the claim at congress, it was countered by the Secretary-General asking whether anyone else of the members had not received the financial statements, to which no one indicated that they had not received the documents.
This is the link to that story: http://www.graphic.com.gh/sports/sports-news/acnunoo-mensah-holds-goc-to-account.html
Clearly, there seems to be a penchant to do the bidding of an individual who likely has an agenda, and this is something we would have expected from newspapers below the caliber of the Daily Graphic. The quality of journalism should be much higher than that at the Daily Graphic.
(RICHARD AKPOKAVIE, SECRETARY GENERAL, GHANA OLYMPIC COMMITTEE)