China has banned the use of its Olympic gold medalists' names as Internet addresses by anyone but the athletes themselves.
The move announced Tuesday came after companies registered the names of winning Chinese athletes at the 2004 Athens Olympics as Web addresses, prompting an outcry by sports fans.
"The move will better protect the interests of the Olympic gold medalists," said an official of the government's China Internet Network Information Center, quoted by the state Xinhua News Agency. It identified him only by the surname Hu.
The Chinese government controls the awarding of Web addresses using the ".cn" suffix but has no power over those assigned in other countries.
The General Administration of Sport gave the agency a list of Chinese Olympians ahead of the games and registered all possible domain names using their names, Xinhua said.
People who registered those names before the games can keep them but "were advised to give it to the medalist `as a gift'," Xinhua cited CNNIC as saying.
Domain names based on the names of a least 10 gold medalists, including weightlifter Chen Xiexia and gymnast Yang Wei, were registered before the games, according to Xinhua.