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China defends Olympics internet access

Contentious sites will be available

Organisers of the Beijing Olympics have given assurances that internet and media access will meet Olympic standards, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) official said yesterday.

"We were satisfied by the assurances we received across a number of areas - media service levels, including internet access, brand protection, environmental contingency plans for improved air quality, and the live broadcast feed," said Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, which was making its tenth and final visit to Beijing ahead of the games.

After protests in Tibet that broke out in mid-March, access to YouTube was blocked when clips of the protests and ensuing violence were uploaded. China stated later that it might not allow live shots of Tiananmen Square during the Games.

The government also said it might broadcast the Olympics with a short delay, allowing it to intercept any scenes of protest that might occur during live shots, something the IOC does not permit.

Verbruggen raised the issues during his visit and was assured that the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) would comply with the IOC guidelines.

Internet users in Beijing confirmed via instant message that YouTube is available, and some were able to access the English-language site for Wikipedia, although its Chinese site could not be reached.

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