Iran blocks 2012 Olympics website

 Iran appears to have blocked the official website for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Users in Iran have tweeted that they are unable to connect to and are instead redirected to — a site offering stories from Iran’s official news agencies. intermittently suggests Iran-based users are unlikely to be able to see the Olympics pages.

Access denied: Users attempting to visit the Olympics’ website are instead diverted to a local page offering news. Representation pic/Thinkstock images

Iran’s ministry of foreign affairs failed to comment. Nima Akbarpour, a BBC presenter, said such website bans are not uncommon, but it is hard to know exactly who is responsible.“The blocking process in Iran is not related to a single specific organisation,” he said. “It happens every day — even affecting pro-government sites and blogs. The Iranian government’s Internet Filtering Committee is in charge of the process, but individual judges can also order a web filter to be imposed.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently ordered officials to set up a new body to co-ordinate decisions regarding the net. The so-called Supreme Council of Virtual Space will be staffed by the president, the ministers of culture and information and security chiefs. It will also monitor discussions on social media. Citizens have also been told they would need to show IDs and give their full name when visiting an internet cafe.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also discussed plans to create a “clean web” within Iran with its own search engine and messaging service. Iran has a history of blocking access to websites its considers a threat to public order, including several Western social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as the Virtual US Embassy among many others.

Threatened to pull out earlier
Iran had previously signalled it might boycott the Olympics over claims that the official logo spells the word Zion — a Hebrew word used to refer to Israel or Jerusalem. In February 2011 the Iranian authorities called for the logo to be withdrawn and the designers confronted. However, a follow-up letter later made clear its athletes would still participate. It said that it would compete, though "our decision to partake [in the] Olympic Games, has nothing to do with the UK politicians… We will participate and play gloriously in London Games”. 

The rise in the number of Internet users now in Iran

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