August 03, 2008, 8:22 PM — International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge Saturday said there was "no deal" with Beijing Olympic officials to permit censorship of the Internet during the games, and lashed out at criticism of the IOC and its handling of the matter.
"Let me be very clear on this. We require the different media have the fullest access possible to report on the Olympic Games, and I am adamant in saying there has been no deal whatsoever to accept restrictions," Rogge said in footage shown by the British Broadcasting Corp. Rogge was speaking at a press conference following the IOC's final meeting before the games.
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Rogge's statement contradicts that of Kevin Gosper, chairman of the IOC's press commission, who said on Wednesday "IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese [so] that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games-related," according to press reports. Neither Rogge nor the IOC clarified why the two had differing views on the situation.
"Our requirements are the same from host city to host city, and remain unchanged since the IOC entered into a host city contract with Beijing in 2001," Rogge said. "When Beijing was awarded the games the IOC required it to provide media with the fullest access possible to report on the Olympic Games. The IOC required this and this is what BOCOG [Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad] has said it will deliver."
[ Related reading: Some Web sites blocked at China Olympic press center ]
He later reacted angrily when it was suggested the IOC should accept some responsibility for the censorship. "I am not going to apologize for something that we are not responsible for. We are not running the Internet in China. The Chinese are running the Internet in China," Rogge said.
Gosper's statement Wednesday caused an international outcry, and on Thursday many blocked sites, including that of press freedom group Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) and the simplified Chinese version of Wikipedia, became accessible.
Although reporters in the main press center enjoy faster Internet access than the average Chinese citizen, their sites they can access are the same, and therefore those previously blocked sites are now available to all Chinese Internet users.