By Duncan Mackay

Rupert_Murdoch_House_of_Commons_July_19_2011July 20 - A deal giving News International the right to exclusive access to Britain's top athletes preparing for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics is under review because the firm is at the centre of the phone-hacking scandal that has shaken Britain.

News International and Team 2012 Ltd and its presenting partner Visa Europe announced an agreement in January that enabled The Sun, News of the World, The Times and The Sunday Times to carry the title of "Official Newspaper of Team 2012".

At the time Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, said the link-up would give readers "unrivalled access" to the 1,200 athletes from 47 Olympic and Paralympic events currently training for next year's London Games.

Brooks has since been forced to step down as head of the organisation and arrested.

She was the editor of the News of the World during the time voice mail accounts were hacked and Metropolitan Police officers were allegedly bribed by reporters from the newspaper in pursuit of stories.

Brooks has consistently claimed that she was unaware of journalists she was in charge of were doing anything illegal.

Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, News International's parent company, sensationally closed the News of the World earlier this month, after it emerged that journalists there had hacked the mobile telephone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and had been deleting messages.

Murdoch and his son, James, the chief executive of News International, and Brooks were all forced to appear before Parliament yesterday to defend themselves.

Murdoch, the industry's most powerful media magnate with a personal fortune $7.6 billion (£4.7 billion), ranking him the 117th wealthiest person in the world, described it as "the most humble day of my life".

Team Visa Launch
Team 2012 is a joint venture officially launched last September between National Lottery provider UK Sport, the British Olympic Association, Paralympics GB and London 2012, helping support athletes selected for next year's Games. 

Over the next year News International is due undertake a multi-channel campaign featuring Team 2012 to engage their audiences to get behind each of the athletes, their sports and their personal stories as they prepare for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"This unique partnership gives our newspapers unrivalled access to the Team 2012 athletes and means we will be able to throw our full support behind the team and give our readers the inside track," Brooks had said when the deal was announced earlier this year.

But now it is understood that Visa, a worldwide Olympic sponsor, are reviewing the partnership.

"The Team 2012 joint venture is monitoring the situation with News International and working through the best media options to make sure that we continue to give the 1,200-plus  athletes from Team 2012 Visa the best chance of achieving success by competing for Team GB and Paralympics GB at London 2012," a spokesman for Team 2012 told insidethegames.

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January 2011: News International to get "unrivalled access" to London 2012 Olympians and Paralympians