Since the Olympic Village press centre opened Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages - among them those that discuss Tibetan issues, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown on the protests in Tiananmen Square and the Web sites of Amnesty International, the BBC's Chinese-language news, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse. The restrictions, which closely resemble the blocks that China places on the Internet for its citizens, undermine sweeping claims by Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, that China had agreed to provide full Web access for foreign news media during the Games, reports the New York Times.
Rogge has long argued that one of the main benefits of awarding the Games to Beijing was that the event would make China more open.
A high-ranking Olympic committee official said Wednesday that the panel was aware that China would continue to censor Web sites carrying content that the Chinese propaganda authorities deemed harmful to national security and social stability.
The panel acquiesced to China's demands to maintain such controls, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not the designated public spokesman for the International Olympic Committee.
The restrictions are the latest in a string of problems that have tarnished the prelude to the Olympics, which open Aug. 8.