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Last Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007, 05:18 GMT
Australian athlete blogs banned
By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

Beijing 2008
The IOC has left the door open for blogging in Beijing
Australian athletes competing in next year's Olympics are to be banned from blogging for the duration the games.

The move is being made due to concerns that the Beijing Olympic village could come to resemble "a reality TV show".

"Blogging would erode the sanctuary of the Olympic village," said the secretary-general of the Australian Olympic Committee, Craig Phillips.

There are concerns blogging might lead competitors to "launch electronic missiles" at other athletes, he said.

After the cauldron of competition, Mr Phillips worries that athletes might use blogs to let off steam.

"The nature of the technology is such that if someone came off the field or the track annoyed about something, they could spout off at their competitors or their coaches. That would undermine team spirit," he said.

"Blogging would allow athletes to launch missiles electronically, and it could become a real free for all."

'Delicate issue'

Mr Phillips also said there were commercial considerations.

The committee fears that non-Olympic sponsors might use blogs to hijack the games in an increasingly common commercial practice known as ambush marketing.

"We rely on our sponsors and we have to protect them," Mr Phillips said.

Meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland this week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) left the door open for blogging in Beijing, but decided to investigate the issue further, before making a final decision.

"In principle, the commission is not against," said Athletes' Commission chairman and former Olympic pole vaulter Sergei Bubka, "but it's quite a delicate issue and we decided to investigate a little more."

"It's modern way for people who want to express their opinion, but we believe there should be certain rules respected by every athlete who participates in the games and who lives in the villages."

At present, competing athletes are not allowed to work as journalists or commentators during the games.

What the IOC will ultimately have to decide is whether bloggers fall within that category, and possibly update its rule book to acknowledge the age of the blog.

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