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FOCUS: Blogs by Olympics participants to be banned+
[January 29, 2006]

FOCUS: Blogs by Olympics participants to be banned+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, Jan. 30_(Kyodo) _ The Japanese Olympic Committee is telling athletes competing at the Turin Winter Olympic Games not to open web logs because the Olympic Charter bans athletes' journalist activities when the games are on, and violators will be disqualified.

After Kentaro Minagawa (Albirex Niigata) finished fourth in the Men's World Cup Slalom in Wengen, Switzerland, on Jan. 15, he updated his blog the next day.

He wrote: "This evening, I am relaxing as yesterday's event is finished. I want to win, too. I want to slide down faster than anybody else."

Shin Taira, head of the JOC's business publicity department, said, "We are in trouble because there is no clear-cut standard to judge to what extent journalist activities are allowed, but diaries and detailed reports are no good during the Olympics period."

An official at a homepage management company that mogul skier Aiko Uemura (Kitano Construction Corp.) said, "During the period, blogs will be stopped." The official is talking with the JOC about whether athletes can update their blog after the Olympics.

The company managing the homepage of figure skater Kimi Ando (Chukyo High School) said that it has been instructed by the Japan Skate Federation not to renew it during the games.

A company source said: "It is better not to do suspicious things. Still, there are problematic issues such as whether a homepage is a journalistic activity and whether things other than diaries cannot be renewed."

The International Olympic Committee began to strictly regulate athletes' journalistic activities in 1992 when American track-and-field athlete Carl Louis reported his impressions to a newspaper by mobile phone as he entered the opening ceremony of Barcelona Olympic Games in 2000.

The IOC warned the American Olympic Committee that his action violated the Olympic Charter.

At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, a similar problem happened when a Japanese newspaper ran an article that looked like a note by a judoist who won a gold medal.

IOC Vice Chairman Chiharu Igawa said: "Bringing in cameras during opening and closing ceremonies also becomes a problem if the cameras are for individuals' commercial activities. Therefore, some regulations are needed. With the development of information technology, there is enough possibility for unexpected conflicts."

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