Beijing, Aug. 20 : China's sport authorities have banned the issuing of Internet domain names based on the country's Olympic gold medal-winning athletes to anyone but the medalists themselves.
According to Xinhua, the step is being taken to prevent commercial exploitation of sports people's names and follows the public controversy over the commercial use of the names of gold medalists at the Athens Games in 2004.
The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) and the General Administration of Sport (GAS) have demanded a veto over the registration of domain names featuring the names of Chinese gold medallists.
A CNNIC official surnamed Hu said: "The move will better protect the interests of the Olympic gold medallists."
The domain names would be given free to the gold medalists to build their own sites.
Those who had already registered before the GAS order could keep the the domain names, but were advised to give it to the medalist "as a gift", the CNNIC said in a notice on its website.
The protection of domain names is especially difficult in China, where thousands of people can share the same name or the same spelling of their name in Pinyin.
ore than 9,000 people are reported to share the name of diving diva Guo Jingjing, excluding those whose names bear the same Pinyin spelling.
China has so far collected a record 43 gold medals at the Beijing Games.
The Beijing News has reported that domain names featuring at least 10 gold medalists, including weightlifter Chen Xiexia, who bagged China's first gold this year, and gymnast Yang Wei, were registered before the Games.