Chinese Government Will Restrict Olympic Internet Access, Blogging

Athletes were told they could keep blogs during the games but the blogs will have to be free of political content.

by / July 31, 2008 0

Chinese authorities confirmed yesterday that the 20,000 foreign journalists covering the Olympic Games will not have unrestricted access to the Internet during their stay. Kevin Gosper, the head of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) press commission, admitted today: "I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered games related."

Yesterday Gosper said the IOC's key concern was to "ensure that the media are able to report on the games as they did in previous games."

Reporters Without Borders comdemned the IOC acceptance of the fact the Chinese authorities are blocking access to certain Web sites at the Olympic Games media center in Beijing.

"Yet another broken promise," the press freedom organization said. "Coming just nine days before the opening ceremony, this is yet another provocation by the Chinese authorities. This situation increases our concern that there will be many cases of censorship during the games. We condemn the IOC's failure to do anything about this, and we are more than sceptical about its ability to 'ensure' that the media are able to report freely."

Sun Weide, the chief spokesman for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), today said the authorities would only guarantee "sufficient" Internet access for accredited media.

Yesterday, said Reporters Without Borders in a release, journalists were unable to access a new Amnesty International report entitled "The Olympic Countdown -- Broken Promises" or the Web sites for many foreign media, such as the BBC's Chinese-language service, the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily and the Taiwan-based Liberty Time. The Reporters Without Borders and Falungong spiritual movement Web sites were also inaccessible.

Last February, the IOC announced that athletes would be allowed to keep blogs during the games as they were "a legitimate form of personal expression and not a form of journalism" but it said the blogs would have to be free of political content.