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IOC grilled on internet censorship

Jacques Rogge, president of the Swiss-based International Olympic Committee (IOC), has been accused of backtracking on promises of press freedoms.

This content was published on August 2, 2008 - 18:41

Under pressure from the IOC, Chinese organisers unblocked some sites at the main press centre and venues, but others remained censored for journalists covering the Summer Games. Some internet sites also remained blocked in China.

"Let me be very clear on this," said Rogge in Beijing on Saturday, less than a week before the Olympics begin. "We require that different media have the fullest access possible to report on the Olympic Games."

He added: "I'm adamant in saying there has been no deal whatsoever to accept restrictions. Our requirements are the same from host city to host city and remain unchanged since the IOC entered into a host city contract with Beijing in 2001."

Chinese officials and high-ranking IOC members have repeatedly said there would be no censorship on the internet for accredited journalists covering the games – even though Chinese authorities regularly block sites used by its citizens.

"I'm not going to make an apology for something that the IOC is not responsible for," Rogge said. "We are not running the internet in China. The Chinese authorities are running the internet."

During an IOC news conference earlier on Saturday, Rogge was quoted as saying "foreign media will be able to report freely and publish their work freely in China. There will be no censorship on the internet".

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies suggested that Rogge, who is Belgian, may not have been precise when he spoke of "no censorship" because he was speaking in English, not his native tongue.

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