ATHENS (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee on Friday gave the green light to allow blogging at the Olympics for the first time, issuing guidelines for this August's Beijing Games.
Athletes have long demanded they be allowed to write their blogs -- on-line journals of personal opinion or reflection -- during the Games but the IOC was concerned these could potentially infringe on copyright agreements and private information.
In a series of guidelines, the IOC said blogging would be allowed during the Beijing 2008 Olympics as long as individuals writing the journals keep within the IOC format.
"The IOC considers blogging... as a legitimate form of personal expression and not a form of journalism," the IOC said.
"It is required that, when accredited persons at the Games post any Olympic content, it be confined solely to their own personal Olympic-related experience," it said.
Bloggers during the August 8-24 Beijing Olympics are banned from posting any Olympic Games visual or audio material and any confidential information on third parties.
Athletes or officials who blog can only post still pictures taken outside accredited areas or their own pictures taken within these areas that do not contain any sporting action.
The IOC is eager to protect rights holders as Games broadcasting contracts are worth several billion euros.
Blogs should not have exclusive agreements with any company and there should be no commercial reference or advertising either, the IOC said.
Blogs should also adhere to the Olympic spirit "and be dignified and in good taste."
The phenomenal rise of blogs and their growing sphere of influence beyond the small group they were initially intended for had alarmed the IOC, especially ahead of the Beijing Games, which have been under fire due to China's human rights record and its crackdown on on-line dissidents.
Technology has made it easier and faster to blog with on-line athletes' personal diaries on the rise during the last two Games, the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2006 Turin Winter Games. All those blogs were not officially approved by the IOC at the time.
Editing by Alison Wildey