IOC raises awareness of match-manipulation ahead of Winter Games

With the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics approaching, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has moved to raise awareness of the dangers of match-fixing and manipulation.

In pursuit of this objective, the IOC has appointed eight new brand ambassadors, each representing a different competiving nation and a different Winter Olympics event, with the tournament scheduled to take place between 4-12 February. 

Representing Slovakia is IOC Ethnics Commisison member Danka Bartekova (shooting, Slovakia) alongside Andreas Linger (luge, Austria), Andrej Miklavc (Alpine skiing, Slovenia), Nicola Minichiello (bobsleigh, Great Britain) and Jakob Spik (Alpine skiing, Slovenia).

Emma Terho (ice hockey, Finland, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission), Pernilla Wiberg (Alpine skiing, Sweden), Yang Yang (speed skating, China) have also joined the aforementioned as brand ambassadors. 

Bartekova remarked: “Match-fixing and illegal betting completely ruin the passion of sport that all athletes have. We want to be clean, we want to play fair, and this is why we need to educate the athletes on this issue, so they are aware of how to protect their sport, and themselves.

“No athlete begins their career with competition manipulation in mind, but either through adversity or through not understanding the rules, athletes can find themselves in a situation that could ruin everything they have worked hard for.”

In addition to signing the new ambassadors, the IOC has included a dedicated section on the prevention of competition manipulation to its Athlete365 platform, featuring educational and advice from the athletes themselves. 

An educational toolbox is also displayed, as well as guidance on how to submit a report confidentiality via the IOC’s Integrity Hotline and customised information on the athletes entourage, a directory of IFs’ action in the field and a Code of Condcut available in 21 languages. 

Representing the host nation of China, Yang Yang, who is also Chair of the Beijing 2022 Athletes’ Commission, added “Education is key. As ambassadors against competition manipulation, we are all playing a part in educating athletes from around the globe about the rules and risks surrounding competition manipulation. 

“This is in an effort to ensure the athletes are prepared and know exactly what steps to take to prevent competition manipulation, and to report any related incidents that might take place.”

Lastly, the IOC intends to activate the campaign outside the digital world, integrating educational elements into NOCs and IFs regarding the prevention of competition manipulation.

The ambassadors have also been enrolled in preparatory sessions with athletes, entourage members and officials ahead of the games, whilst an e-learning course will focus on recognition of suspicious behaviour and what participants should do when ‘confronted with concrete situations’.

Minichiello, representing Great Britain and bobsleigh, remarked: “Sports should be pure, and the Olympic Games give us the opportunity to observe athletes performing at the best of their abilities, taking both themselves and the observers on a journey of emotions with passion and surprise. Competition manipulation is a threat to everything that the Olympic Games stand for.”

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