China restricts Internet addresses with Olympic champions’ names

August 20th, 2008 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 20 (Xinhua) China’s sport authorities have banned the issuing of Internet domain names based on the country’s Olympic gold medal-winning athletes to anyone other than the medallists themselves.The move was aimed at preventing the commercial exploitation of sportspersons’ names and follows the public controversy over the commercial use of the names of gold medallists of the Athens Games in 2004, said the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

The General Administration of Sport (GAS) has provided the CNNIC with a full list of China’s Olympic team prior to the Games opening Aug 8, and had registered all available domain names for athletes in Chinese characters.

“The move will better protect the interests of the Olympic gold medallists,” the official said.

The domain names would be given free to the gold medallists to build their own sites.

Those who had already registered before the GAS order could keep the domain names, but were advised to give these to the medallist “as a gift”, the CNNIC said in a notice on its website.

The protection of domain names is especially difficult in China, where thousands of people can share the same name or the same spelling of their name in Pinyin.

More than 9,000 people are reported to share the name of diving diva Guo Jingjing, excluding those whose names bear the same spelling.

China has so far collected a record 43 gold medals at the Beijing Games.

The Beijing News has reported that domain names featuring at least 10 gold medallists, including those of weightlifter Chen Xiexia, who bagged China’s first gold this year, and gymnast Yang Wei, were registered before the Games.

In 2004, a company in the southern city of Xiamen registered the domain names and, which were names of shooting champions at the Athens Olympics, shortly after they won their medals.

The company surrendered the names two weeks later amid widespread public anger.

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