Slow internet major problem at Olympics

By Charisse Ede in Beijing

Internet connection is proving to be a major problem at the Beijing Games, despite Olympic organisers promising uncensored access. Slow connection speed and apparent restricted access to news websites have riled many of the media outlets already in Beijing 12 days out from the opening ceremony.

The Chinese ruling party is widely known to monitor and limit all internet access within China.

However, two years ago BOCOG media services head Li Jingbo promised in the official China Daily newspaper that there would be uncensored access during the Games, which begin on August 8.

Today, some media in the Main Press Centre (MPC) struggled to view various international news websites, including the BBC's Chinese service and appledaily.com.

Japanese reporters said click-through connections would not work.

Connections drop out frequently and several organisations, including the Australian Olympic Committee, say the speed is up to 10 times slower than in Australia.

One picture takes at least two minutes to send.

There are concerns that once the 22,000 media expected at the Games arrive, connections will become even slower.

The director of BOCOG media, Sun Weijia, today denied access was slow and said reports from other journalists had only been positive.

He said he was confident the service could accommodate the thousands of media expected to flood the MPC during the Games.

"I don't think there's any problems if you want to connect to any media website," he said.

"The information we have received is there is no problem.

"I think in MPC, in this building, all the facilities are being established under our calculation and estimation of the number of media and according to our expectations, it can satisfy needs of many media working together in this building."

In contrast, several international news agencies located in a different area of the MPC have been surprised at the speed of their connections and say they have no problems sending photographs.

Copyright © 2008 AAP

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Herald Sun – http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/ 0,21985,24085004-5005961,00.html