Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 12:06 UK

IOC warns China over web access

A demonstrator in Italy, file image
Anti-Beijing protesters have used the Olympics to publicise their causes

China must ensure open access to the internet during the Beijing Games, Olympic officials have warned.

Inspectors from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said China was obliged under its Games contract to provide journalists with web access.

The IOC's Kevan Gosper said there was concern that the web had been blocked during recent unrest in Tibet. He said this could not happen during the Games.

IOC inspectors are on a final visit to Beijing before the August Games begin.

Internet 'management'

Mr Gosper said blocking the internet during the Games would "reflect very poorly" on the host nation.

"There was some criticism that the Internet closed down during events relating to Tibet in previous weeks - but this is not Games time," he said.

"Our concern is that the press is able to operate as it has at previous Games during Games time."

Some 30,000 journalists are expected to be in Beijing to cover the Games.

China frequently blocks access to certain websites - often restricting access to foreign media sites.

But foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told the Associated Press that China's "management" of the internet followed the "general practice of the international community".

She declined to say if the internet would be unrestricted for journalists during the Olympics, AP noted.

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