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IOC Officials Dismayed Over China's Internet Censorship


A senior official with the International Olympic Committee has apologized to foreign journalists for wrongly saying China would allow unrestricted Internet access during the Beijing Games. Stephanie Ho reports from the Chinese capital.

The International Olympic Committee's media head, Kevan Gosper, says he was not previously aware of an understanding between Chinese officials and senior IOC executives, that access to some Internet sites will continue to be blocked by China.

On Thursday, he apologized to journalists in Beijing for giving the impression that Internet access during the Olympics would be completely unrestricted.

"I am concerned that the international media, who we rely on for reporting the games, has been caught by surprise. That, for me, is unacceptable," Gosper said.

Another IOC member, Australian Olympic chief John Coates, also expressed measured criticism.

"As I've said before, I was upset when I heard about it yesterday," Coates said. "I think it's a great pity, but if that's how it's going to be, so be it."

Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee spokesman Sun Weide says journalists will have what he called "sufficient and convenient" Internet access.

Sun told reporters Chinese authorities will - with the exception of websites the Chinese deem illegal - provide full access to the Internet to facilitate their reporting during the Olympic games.

He says the Internet will continue to be regulated according to Chinese law, which forbids anyone to spread illegal information on groups such as Falun Gong or to use the Internet to harm national interests - not exactly the "free access" some reporters expected.

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