IOC Surprised By Olympic Internet CensorshipBy: Mike Sachoff - July 31, 2008
The International Olympic Committee now says that the media should have been informed by Chinese Olympic officials that they would not have free and open access to the Internet.
"It’s learning of it at almost the last minute that I think is destabilizing the international media and certainly embarrassing for me, as up till 48 hours ago I was insisting it would be free and uncensored Internet access," IOC press chief Kevan Gosper told Reuters.
Gosper said the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) had changed the language it has used recently from "uncensored" Internet access to "convenient and timely." He said the IOC was taken by surprise that some Web sites had been blocked.
Amnesty International, whose Web site is blocked in China, was critical of Internet censorship during the Games. "The International Olympic Committee and the Organizing Committee of the Beijing Olympic Games should fulfill their commitment to ‘full media freedom’ and provide immediate uncensored Internet access at Olympic media venues," said Mark Allison, East Asia researcher for Amnesty International
"Censorship of the internet at the Games is compromising fundamental human rights and betraying the Olympic values."
BOCOG spokesman Sun Weide said Internet restrictions would not prevent the media from covering the Games. He did admit access to some Web sites would be blocked.