While the Olympics project an outward image of a friendly event in which sporting achievement and sportsmanship is paramount, there's a rather ruthless marketing and money-spinning organization behind them. The International Olympic Committee and its affiliates are pretty well known for their rather ridiculous attempts to control use of the word "Olympic" and bend over backwards, even trying to get laws enacted, to protect their paying sponsors. Part and parcel of this are their attempts to stifle media coverage of the event, both in order to control the messages, but also to wring as much money as possible out of the coverage rights. In the past, this has meant that athletes weren't allowed to have personal blogs, with organizers threatening to remove blogging athletes' credentials and sue for "damages." Now, however, the IOC has changed its stance -- sort of -- and says that athletes will be able to blog during the 2008 Summer Olympics, but it's still considering what system to use and restrictions to place on them. This still seems pretty silly: the IOC says it has concerns about privacy, but this would just seem to be an attempt to justify control and censorship of blogging athletes. Given the attention that China's human rights record draws, in particular its censorship of the internet, it seems a little ironic that the IOC is still wrestling with how to stifle and control athletes' expression during the games that will be held there. Somehow, we imagine it's equally possible that all they're really doing is trying to figure out a way to get somebody to pay to be the "exclusive blogging provider" for the games, and once that happens, everything will be kosher.
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