(dpa) - The media - and likely the locals as well - will have full internet access during the Beijing Games including information about sensitive issues such as Tibet, Olympic official Kevan Gosper said on Saturday.
But Gosper could not guarantee whether the free access would also apply on the days before and after the August 8-24 Games.
"We have a guarantee from the organization about having free Internet access for the accredited media during the 16 days of the Games. But we don't know yet how many days before the Games we'll get free Internet," Gosper told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
He also said: "The Chinese authorities gave us a firm guarantee about the internet being completely free during the Games. But this guarantee is not valid outside the Games period."
Gosper is a long-time member of the International Olympic Committee, vice-president of the IOC coordination committee for the Beijing Games, and head of the IOC press commission.
Communist China does not allow free internet access for its population. Censorship includes information on such items as Tibet or Tiananmen - as the pages stay blank.
The situation is only better in hotels frequented by foreigners, but even there certain websites don't seem to be available all the time.
The censorship also applies to television, with footage from CNN or the BBC critical of China on for instance the Tibet issue and the protests around the lighting of the Olympic flame leading to black screens.
Gosper said that internet freedom could spread across the whole city as the more than 20,000 media representatives at the Games will not only work from the Main Press Centre or the Olympic venues.
He said the issue will be on the agenda next week when the IOC holds executive board meetings in Beijing and meets the Chinese organizers.
"That's something we'll have to talk about this week. But once the line is open, you can't do anything. It's not so easy to split the Internet access," Gosper said.
Gosper also expressed his confidence that the Chinese will terminate the internet restrictions ahead of August 8 because the media starts reporting on the Games earlier.
"I have confidence that the Chinese authorities will understand it. They understand pretty good that the media will start with their work one week or ten days before the Games start," he told dpa.
Also on Saturday, Mexican IOC member Mario Vazquez Rana suggested that some may be using the Tibet issue to harm the Olympics.
Vazquez Rana, who presides over the association of National Olympic Committees, also insisted that the IOC members are no magicians and "can't solve the Tibet problem" which according to him "doesn't belong to the Olympic Games."
The Mexican also dismissed any calls for a boycott of the Games, saying that politicians who back a boycott "will make a big mistake. A very big mistake."