Posted on: February 2, 2022, 08:44h.
Last updated on: February 2, 2022, 09:07h.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is ramping up anti-match-fixing efforts ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, which gets underway Friday.
The committee’s Olympic Movement Unit on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions (OM Unit PMC) has conducted in discipline-depth assessments of the seven Winter Olympic sports and 15s to determine the risk of manipulation linked to sports betting. It has shared its findings with International Sports Federations.
Meanwhile, OM Unit PMC will continue to monitor the betting markets on all events via its IBIS intelligence system. Integrity monitoring systems use sophisticated algorithms that can detect irregular betting activity with a low margin of error. IBIS also acts as an intelligence sharing platform.
Monitoring Illegal Markets
But the monitoring of illegal betting markets presents more of a challenge. Systems like IBIS can use web analytics to observe illegal markets. But it is difficult to see the amounts being staked, and they usually have to focus on odds changes.
China is heavily engaged in a fight against illegal betting. The strict prohibition of almost all forms of gambling pushes such underground activities, making suspicious activity harder to detect. In theory, that could make athletes in China vulnerable to approaches by gambling syndicates.
The IOC has emphasized the need to support athletes and educate them about the issue. The committee has appointed eight new brand ambassadors, each with the role of raising awareness among competitors of the dangers of match-fixing and manipulation.
Representing China is short-track speed skater Yang Yang, who won her country’s first Winter Olympics gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Education is key.” Yang Yang said in a statement. “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.”
In reality, Olympic match-fixing is rare, and a case linked to betting has never been detected, although this does not mean it has never happened.
Instances of Olympic Match-Fixing
During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, several badminton women’s doubles players threw matches, which resulted in their ejection from the games.
But there was no evidence the matches were manipulated by betting syndicates. Rather, the athletes, from China, South Korea, and Indonesia, deliberately underperformed to get a favorable seeding in the knockout stage of the competition. This was ultimately down to a flaw in the structure of the competition.
Meanwhile, a report published last year found that corruption in boxing had been “endemic” at Rio 2016, and probably also London 2012. But this was to a “cash for medals” culture at AIBA, the International Boxing Association (amateur), rather than a shadowy gambling syndicate.
At Beijing 2008, Irish star-class sailor Peter O’Leary was found to have bet on competitor Great Britain to win the competition. But he was cleared by the IOC ethics committee, which determined his bet had no bearing on the final result. That’s because O’Leary did not have a chance of fighting for a medal. The Irishman was simply unfamiliar with the regulations that prohibited athletes from betting on Olympic events, the IOC found.