Athletes participating in the 2019 Pan-American Games, which are taking place in the Peruvian capital, Lima, from 26 July to 11 August 2019, have shown a keen interest in the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Believe in Sport campaign, aimed at protecting them and preventing competition manipulation. In addition, PanAm Sports’ General Assembly was briefed about the IOC’s strategy and its first comprehensive implementation at such a continental multi-sports event which involves the application of regulations, awareness-raising measures and monitoring/intelligence.
In total, more than 6,500 athletes are competing at the continental multi-sports event, which serves as an Olympic qualifier for many disciplines on the programme, and the IOC’s booth, based in the Athlete365 Space in the Athletes’ Village for the duration of the Games, has been highly frequented from the very first day.
“A good number of athletes who are competing at the Pan-Am Games will also participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” explained Friedrich Martens, Head of the Olympic Movement Unit on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions at the IOC. “We are stepping up our educational campaign in order to raise awareness among athletes and their entourage that competition manipulation can occur in each sport. The objective is to provide them with guidance on what to do should they suspect cheating or get directly approached by somebody with unethical intentions.”
At the booth, athletes can learn about the Code of Conduct and its four basic rules through a toss game challenge.
Argentinian baseball athlete Guido Monis, who visited the IOC’s Believe in Sport booth, acknowledged the importance of organising educational activities on competition manipulation, considering it extremely valuable for athletes to gain information on this particular issue. He also stressed the importance of having a reporting channel if they come across dangerous or disturbing situations.
Through the Integrity Hotline, it is possible for everyone to report suspicious activities, including ones related to competition manipulation, and any other infringements of the IOC Code of Ethics.
At the Pan-Am Games, the Believe in Sport experts are also meeting the National Olympic Committee (NOC) teams in the athletes’ accommodation area to further raise awareness on these topics. Amelia Walsh and Kelsey Mitchell, both track cyclists from Canada, claimed they had a good basic-level knowledge of the topic of competition manipulation but were not fully aware of all the nuances. “I’ve heard about issues in some parts of the world in our sport. The Code of Conduct as a guideline makes perfect sense – potential threats and athlete responsibilities are not difficult to understand – but awareness-raising needs to be continuous for the athlete community to get a profound understanding about how competition manipulation can harm us and our sport,” said Walsh, who is aiming to compete for a medal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
In addition to IOC experts, the Believe in Sport booth at the Pan-Am Games is staffed with local athlete representatives in order to generate a peer-to-peer dialogue, an approach which has proven to be very successful.
One of these athlete representatives, rugby player Alejandra Betancur, said: “It is vital, on the road to Tokyo 2020, to root out competition manipulation before it even starts. There is no way to achieve this other than through awareness-raising and education at all levels. Our sport and the values of the Olympic athletes must be protected.”
The implementation of the Believe in Sport campaign at major sports events is just one part of the work of the Olympic Movement Unit on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions on the road to Tokyo 2020. The team will also collaborate closely with all International Federations (IFs) and NOCs for their pre-Tokyo campaigns.