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Mon, June 17, 2024

Paris Olympics: IOC Introduces AI to Protect Athletes from Online Abuse

Paris Olympics: IOC Introduces AI to Protect Athletes from Online Abuse

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will deploy AI to block any abuse on social media directed at 15,000 athletes and officials during the Paris Olympics next month, IOC President Thomas Bach announced.

The Games will take place amid ongoing conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine following Russia's 2022 invasion and the conflict between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, which have already sparked instances of social media abuse.

Starting on July 26, the Olympics will see over 10,500 athletes competing in 32 sports, expected to generate more than half a billion social media engagements over the 16-day event, according to the IOC.

"The IOC will utilise AI in various areas during the Paris Games," Bach said at a press conference. "One key area is safeguarding, as we anticipate around half a billion social media posts. If someone were to spend only one second reading each post, it would take 16 years to go through all of them," he explained.

"To protect athletes from cyber abuse, the IOC will deploy a proactive AI safeguarding tool. This tool offers extensive monitoring and will automatically delete abusive posts, protecting 15,000 athletes and officials."

Many athletes choose to withdraw from social media during competitions to avoid potential abuse. The IOC deems this an unacceptable situation, emphasising that positive interactions are integral to the Olympic experience.

"We know that social media and sport are inextricably linked, offering fantastic opportunities for engagement," said Kirsty Burrows, head of the IOC Safe Sport Unit, during the unveiling of the IOC's Olympic AI agenda. 

"However, online violence is pervasive and inescapable in the digital age. It’s not good enough to tell athletes to get used to abuse or ignore it – that’s neither fair nor right."

Russian and Belarusian athletes will compete as neutral athletes rather than under their national flags, a decision that has angered Moscow.

The measures will address all types of abuse, not just political attacks. The IOC did not specify what kind of access athletes would need to grant to their accounts.

Bach also addressed concerns about political developments in France and the upcoming snap parliamentary elections weeks before the Olympics, asserting that these would not disrupt the preparations or the Games themselves.

"No, we are not concerned," Bach stated. "Both the government and the opposition are determined to ensure that France presents itself at its best during the Olympic Games."

French President Emmanuel Macron announced a snap parliamentary election for the end of the month following the anti-immigration, Euroskeptic National Rally's victory in the European Parliament vote.

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