31 Jul 2008

China reneges on media promise

6:48 am on 31 July 2008

China has reneged on a promise to provide uncensored internet access for the Beijing Olympics, and the International Olympic Committee had prior knowledge that media covering the games would not be able to access certain websites.

It's an embarrassing blow for the chairman of the IOC's press commission, Australia's Kevin Gosper, who has repeatedly assured journalists they would have unhindered access during their time in Beijing.

An IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the Beijing Organising Committee had always made it clear that some websites would be an issue, although she later clarified her statement, saying they had mentioned only pornographic sites, and sites sensitive for national security reasons.

The IOC is seeking a meeting with Chinese authorities to pish for free access to news sites such as the BBC and Deutsche Welle, the German broadcaster, that were also blocked yesterday.

There is a wide discrepancy between internet speeds in and out of China, leading to speculation that traffic is being monitored.