Aussie Olympian blogs muzzled, not censored

Australian athletes' blogs will not be censored during the Beijing Olympics, according to the Australian Olympic Committee president, but the International Olympic Committee is preventing them from profiting from the games' name.

Australian athletes' blogs will not be censored during the Beijing Olympics, according to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president, but the International Olympic Committee is preventing them from profiting from the games' name.

"We're not going to gag our athletes in any way and I'm certainly not going to sit up at night and read 476 blogs," AOC president John Coates said at yesterday's team management meeting.

"We respect the right of our athletes to have an opinion and to express it," he added.

"The Olympic charter says that you can't participate in political demonstrations. I don't think expressing an opinion on something amounts to a demonstration," said Coates.

However, the International Olympic Committee is concentrating on commercial rather than political concerns, recently issuing a set of guidelines aimed at protecting the intellectual property rights of the organisation.

Under the IOC guidelines, athletes are prohibited using the word "olympics" in their blog's domain name. Athletes are also banned from selling advertising on their personal blogs, and from working as journalists for media outlets.

The IOC's rules prohibit athletes from using still and moving images taken from within restricted zones, including the opening and closing ceremonies of the games.

Athletes that breach the controls face possible expulsion from the games if caught.

Previously, the AOC had held the view that blogs written by Olympic athletes should not be permitted at all, fearing that the blogs would be too difficult to regulate and could compromise the AOC's commercial control over the games. The AOC also expressed fears the blogs would be used as a forum to criticise competitors and their coaches.

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