The manipulation of competitions is a risk that can undermine sport. Whether related to betting or not, cheating must be fought by the Olympic Movement as a whole. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach reinforced this message during a chat with Olympians in the Olympic Village last night.
Joined by IOC Athletes’ Commission Members Tony Estanguet, Barbara Kendall and Todd Nicholson, the IOC President said: “Fair play is always important. Fair play is what makes sport different from other areas of life.” Speaking before a group of athletes huddled at the IOC Space situated in front of the Village’s main dining hall, he continued: “the International Olympic Committee is a values-based organisation. The Olympic Games are about values, and we have to make sure that the athletes can trust in these values.”
Tackling manipulation and corruption in sport
The IOC is more than ever committed to protecting the integrity of sport. As the sports betting market grows steadily, there will be an enormous amount of money bet on the events of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Consequently, it has become of even greater significance for the IOC to take a proactive approach in the fight against the manipulation of competitions, which is when an athlete or official cheats to remove the unpredictability of an event. They may cheat to lose, often for money or for a sporting advantage.
“We are supervising the whole betting market during the Olympic Games,” said the IOC President. “If a competitor should bet on any competition during the Games, we will know and we will take action so all the bets are supervised. Wherever there is something suspicious, our people are following up and there can be pretty severe sanctions.”
Participants at the Olympic Games are not permitted to bet on Olympic events and are obliged to report any approach or suspicion of manipulation. In order to detect issues, the betting market is monitored through the IOC’s Integrity Betting Intelligence System (IBIS), which is linked to key entities from the global sports betting market.
Education as a tool for prevention
“Education is definitely the strongest tool to fight against competition manipulation,” commented incoming next Vice-Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission Tony Estanguet. “As an athlete, you have to make sure that the entourage is also educated; be careful with whom you work and make sure that everyone around you knows the rules.”
Implementing robust educational awareness programmes aimed at athletes, coaches and officials is a preventive measure used by the IOC to protect Olympic events from any kind of manipulation. The recently launched integrity elearning platform, which is operational for the first time at Rio 2016, is one example of an educational programme which challenges athletes and officials’ awareness on the fight against the manipulation of competitions. More importantly, it teaches them the role they can play in protecting themselves and in preserving the integrity of their sport and competitions.
“When you sign up as an athlete, there is a lot of information that you need to absorb, and it’s trying to find those places where you can know where it all is,” added Paralympian Todd Nicholson.
Learn more about the various IOC integrity initiatives here.