HONG KONG – Sohu.com, the Chinese web portal has signed a deal with China Central Television that gives it rights to Webcast the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Deal covers all the sports events and the opening and closing ceremonies. Sohu is already the official Internet sponsor of the August games.

While the company’s press statement does not specify geographic limitation of the deal, rights are assumed to be for China only.

“CCTV.com is the most prestigious news website based on the country’s national television network, and Sohu is China’s leading internet portal. The partnership between Sohu and CCTV.com has become another important milestone between the official Internet Content Sponsor for Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and the official Olympic Internet/Mobile Broadcaster,” Dr. Charles Zhang, Chairman and CEO of Sohu.com said.

In 2005, NASDAQ-traded Sohu paid $30 million for the rights to host the Games’ website and to use its logo, reports say.

Sohu will have a staff of over 700 employees working during the Olympics to provide the coverage, and interestingly, says it will be at least 60 seconds ahead in its Chinese athletes coverage than of any other website, though not sure what that means: does that mean the webcast/news is live for them and delayed for others?

China has more than 160 million Internet users and 2007 saw over $1.1 billion generated by on-line ads.