05 May 2021
In the lead-up to Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week launched a new campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the threat of competition manipulation among qualified athletes, their entourage members and officials, while empowering them to “MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION”.
Athlete365, the IOC’s digital platform for Olympians and elite athletes, now features a dedicated section on the prevention of competition manipulation, with a wealth of educational material and advice from athlete ambassadors selected in close collaboration with the International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs). During an elearning programme, the users learn how to recognise suspicious behaviour and what to do when confronted with concrete situations. The platform also provides an educational toolbox and guidance on how to submit a report confidentially via the IOC’s Integrity Hotline. In addition, there is customised information for the athletes’ entourage and a directory of IFs’ actions in this important field.
Brazilian volleyball legend Gilberto “Giba” Amauri de Godoy Filho is one of the many ambassadors from around the world. On the occasion of today’s campaign launch, the three-time Olympic medallist and world champion said: “I am proud to be able to join this campaign and help ensure that athletes know how to protect themselves and sport from competition manipulation. Athletes have a responsibility to know and follow the rules to safeguard their career and reputation, while concentrating on competing at their best and winning through integrity and fair play.”
It is for this very reason the awareness campaign starts now, encouraging all athletes participating in Tokyo 2020 to undergo the elearning programme ahead of the Olympic Games, therefore allowing them to fully focus on their competitions upon arrival in Japan. The ambassadors, following their participation in an IOC training programme, are helping to spread the word and give specific advice on how to react in certain situations. “The training was ideal because it helped us to become a reference for the sports world on the prevention of competition manipulation,” said Diego Castillo, an Olympian and retired swimmer from Panama. “It is a somewhat unknown topic, and to be one of the few who handles it with a greater expertise is an honour.”
Ryan Nelson, an ambassador and former professional footballer from New Zealand, shared his motivation to get involved and support the campaign: “Competition manipulation has the ability to impact that pureness, that love, that passion and that innocence that the Olympics represent. I think it’s extremely important we protect the Games from any sort of outside influence.”
Peer-to peer communication and education have been used successfully at previous Games editions and other major international sports events in order to prevent competition manipulation. Telma Monteiro, an Olympic medallist in judo from Portugal who decided to become an ambassador earlier this year, believes “the biggest problem is the lack of information” and that “educating athletes can greatly contribute to preventing them from being involved in harmful situations in the future.”
Ambassador Louise Bawden from Australia, an Olympian in volleyball and beach volleyball, shared her own personal experiences: “During my time as an athlete, I was unfortunately exposed to an attempt at competition manipulation once. While it was an isolated incident, and went no further, it highlighted to me that no athlete, nor any sport, is immune to the threat of competition manipulation.” Her conclusion: “It is important to raise awareness of this issue to ensure that every single athlete and official understands how to identify threats to sport’s integrity and how to appropriately report any potential violations.”
The campaign is being activated not only in the digital space. NOCs and IFs have also integrated educational elements about the prevention of competition manipulation and the ambassadors into preparatory sessions with their athletes, entourage members and officials for Tokyo 2020.
Double Olympic champion in football and ambassador Lindsay Tarpley from the USA sums it all up when she describes her personal motivation to get involved: “I have always seen the Olympics as the pinnacle of sport. I look back on my Olympic experiences and all the joy that it brought me and how it really changed my life – from one event for the rest of my life I am an Olympian. That’s a very powerful word for me. And with that power comes responsibility. It’s important for me to make sure that experience is similar for other athletes.” She added: “Words are extremely powerful and it’s reflective of you. The more that someone can learn about various situations hopefully gives them a better understanding of what is the right thing to say and to do.”