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China to censor Internet during Games

world Updated: Jul 30, 2008 10:23 IST

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Foreign reporters will not have complete access to the Internet during the Beijing Olympics Games, organisers said on Wednesday, reversing a pledge to bring down the Chinese firewall of censorship.

Sites linked to the banned Falungong spiritual movement and other unspecified ones would remain blocked for the thousands of foreign reporters covering the Games, organising committee spokesman Sun Weide told AFP.

"During the Olympic Games we will provide sufficient access to the Internet for reporters," said Sun Weide, spokesman for the organising committee.

However "sufficient" access falls short of the complete Internet freedoms for foreign reporters that China's communist authorities had promised in the run-up to the Games, which begin on August 8.

The head of the International Olympic Committee's press commission, Kevan Gosper, told AFP that he would take the matter up with Chinese authorities.

"I have heard that there are some limitations on access," said Gosper.

"I will speak with the Chinese authorities to advise them of the restraints and to see what their reaction is."

Australian Olympic team chief John Coates, who is also an IOC member, expressed frustration with the decision to continue to censor the Internet, pointing out that China had gone back on one of its "key" Olympic promises.

"It certainly is disappointing... I think it's a matter that the IOC will take seriously," Coates told reporters at the main press centre for the Games here where sensitive Internet sites remained blocked.