Some Web Sites Unblocked for Olympics

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Chinese organizers of the Olympic games unblocked some Internet sites at the main press center and media venues on Friday. But other Web sites are still off limits for journalists in Beijing covering the games.

The effort is still far removed from the "free and unfettered access" that Chinese government officials have promised for months.

Officials from the Senior International Olympic Committee officials convened with their Chinese counterparts late into the night Thursday, eventually agreeing to unblock sites. However, the details are still being hammered out, according to the IOC.

"We trust them to keep their promise," the International Olympic Committee said.

IOC press commission head Kevan Gosper said the IOC and Chinese officials were laboring toward "unblocking sites that we believe were unreasonably blocked."

Full Internet access is not possible in the Communist country. The Communist Party through China's authoritarian government maintains tight social control on citizens, including the flow of information.

"We have always had an understanding, and we haven't necessarily talked about it, that any sovereign government will block pornographic sites and what they might consider subversive, or sites which are contrary to the national interest," Gosper said.

"I would suggest also that we are not working in a democratic society, we're working in a communist society. This is China, and they are proud to be a communist society. So it will be different," he said.

"In terms of all other matters," Gosper said journalists and broadcasters would have the same access as previous Olympics.

"I believe we are now on the way to getting there."

As a matter of routine, China restricts its citizens' Internet access. However, a government organizing committee spokesman disputed this.

"In China, Internet access is fully open," Sun Weide said. "And we're keeping our promises when bidding for the games to provide good environment and a quality service for reporters using the Internet to cover the Olympic Games. And we administer the Internet by law."

The censored Internet is just one of the issues tarnishing China's attempt to use the Olympics to promote an image of a modern, open state.

So far, stories coming out of Beijing have included concerns about Beijing's stifling air pollution, the government's attempts to censor foreign TV broadcasters, and a security crackdown that had discouraged foreign tourists from attending the games.

Source: The Associated Press

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