By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

Acer_computerJanuary 4 - London 2012 is to offer free internet access to athletes and officials taking part in the Olympics and Paralympics, chairman Sebastian Coe has revealed.

The decision not to charge for the internet came following consultation with the 205 National Olympic Committees expected to take part in the Games next year.

"We recognise that, in this new era of new media, providing free internet access to athletes is very important," Coe told insidethegames.

"The feedback was that we've had across our discussions - and particularly during the time I spent in the [Athletes] Village in Delhi during the Commonwealth Games - is that is most of the athletes I spoke too wanted access to the internet more than they wanted TV."

Athletes are expected to be granted access to the internet via special accounts that will be set-up for them by BT, who are the London 2012 telecommunications partner.

Last year there was controversy when it was revealed that London 2012 plan to charge journalists covering the Games £150 ($235) for internet access.

Jayne Pearce, the head of press operations at London 2012, justified the charges by claiming that a cabled solution would be provided in all working environments, representing some 6,800 tabled tribune desks, some 4,700 Venue Media Centre desks and some 1,600 Venue Photo Centre desks.

She claimed that at previous Olympics and Paralympics this service had only been available to organisations paying more than £800 ($1,250) for a dedicated ADSL line.

Coe has also revealed that each apartment in the Olympic Village in London will contain at least three televisions, each with a direct feed from the Olympic Broadcast Service (OBS), the host broadcaster who will be covering all 26 sports due to be contested during the Games. 

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected] 

Related stories
August 2010: London 2012 set for criticism over internet charges
April 2010: London 2012 plan to charge media for internet access