Ars Technica reports that the International Olympic Committee has lifted its ban on blogging. Athletes competing in Beijing 2008 will be allowed to blog about the Olympics, so long as they follow some, well, restrictive guidelines. Most notably, athletes will not be permitted to report on the overall competition or relay information from third parties; instead, the guidelines require that they focus on their own personal experiences. This is because, in the IOC's view, blogging is "a legitimate form of personal expression and not a form of journalism." Whew, I'm glad they resolved that tricky ontological question.
Additionally, athlete bloggers may not post any photographs of the sporting events (although they may post their own photos from inside and outside official Olympic areas), and their posts must be "dignified and in good taste." They also may not host any advertisements or create an affiliation with a specific company (fair enough). It's easy to make fun of all these restrictions, but it is a step forward, and it may make for some fascinating material, even within the guidelines.
Or will it? As if all these rules weren't enough, recall that the Chinese government also filters the Internet in a serious way. According to Ars,
Blogs from common hosts, such as Blogspot and WordPress, have been blocked off and on within China for some time now, so Olympic athletes looking to post about their experiences may not even be able to access their sites without some sort of contingency plan. That's not the only place they'll have to compromise, either—other taboo topics include the local police, government, as well as the likes of Falun Gong, Nazi Germany, and Tiananmen Square.
The CMLP wishes all the sporty bloggers luck in the face of adversity.