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IOC to Deploy AI to Combat Social Media Abuse During Paris 2024 Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced plans to use artificial intelligence (AI) to prevent social media abuse aimed at the 15,000 athletes and officials participating in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Social media serves as a crucial fan engagement tool for the IOC, its partners, national organising committees (NOCs), international federations (IFs), and athletes. However, increasing political tensions and conflicts have led to a rise in online abuse.

Concerns have been raised that athletes, who often depend on digital platforms for sponsorship and to enhance their elite competition experience, might face targeted abuse during the Olympics, potentially affecting their performance and mental health. With more than half a billion social media engagements expected during Paris 2024, manual moderation would be insufficient. The IOC noted it would take 16 years to read every post back-to-back.

The IOC’s AI system will monitor millions of data points, using natural language analysis to detect and remove offensive posts at scale. This system will collaborate with social media platforms to erase or hide abusive content before the targeted athlete can read it.

Some athletes avoid social media during competitions to escape potential abuse, a situation the IOC finds unacceptable. Positive interactions, they argue, are part of the Olympic experience.

“Social media and sport are inextricably linked, offering fantastic opportunities for engagement,” said Kirsty Burrows, head of the IOC Safe Sport Unit, at the unveiling of the Olympic AI agenda. “However, online violence is pervasive and inescapable. Saying athletes should get used to abuse or ignore it isn’t good enough—it’s not fair and it’s not right.”

Burrows emphasised that AI will help the IOC understand online violence better and develop data-driven policies to create a safe environment for athletes.

Former Olympic champion alpine skier Lindsey Vonn added, “Success often brings public scrutiny, and athletes face aggressive harassment, hate speech, and even death threats. This makes competing under pressure even more challenging. The AI technology available now would have saved me a lot of anxiety during my career.”

Vonn stressed that online abuse should not be a distraction or something athletes must develop a thick skin to endure.


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