Report: Top swimmers blocked in China

Facing tight Chinese government restrictions on internet access, swimmers competing at next week’s World Championships in Shanghai will be effectively blocked from using Facebook and Twitter, The (Sydney) Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Australian Eamon Sullivan, an Olympic silver medalist, was one swimmer trying to figure out how to get around the social media block, tweeting to his 13,969 followers Monday, "Flying to Shanghai today, not too sure how much is going to be blocked on the internet. But will try to get a tweet in, somehow!"

It is understood many of the Australian swimmers will opt to not use the sites as the only way for them to tap into their accounts is via their home mobile networks, which could cost hundreds — perhaps thousands — of dollars in global roaming fees.

While China relaxed its internet policy for the Beijing Olympics, the government began blocking foreign social networking sites in the first half of 2009.

It is believed the Iranian protest movement of 2009 and this year’s Egyptian uprising — when social networks proved their capabilities for organizing protest rallies against governments — spurred the Chinese to enforce the restrictions.

The World Championships begin this Sunday and run until July 31.