he Government Olympic Committee, which is a division within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, revealed that it will be setting up a specialist team to monitor suspicious betting patterns and share intelligence on those who may be attempting to bribe athletes into fixing events.
Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and Olympics, told The Sunday Times newspaper earlier this week that match-fixing has overtaken doping as the biggest threat to the integrity of the Olympics and that the government’s specialist unit will also involve the International Olympic Committee and the Gambling Commission and, if required, the Metropolitan Police.
“You cannot underestimate the threat this poses because the moment that spectators start to feel that what they are seeing is not a true contest, that is when spectators stop turning up and the whole thing turns to pieces,” said Robertson. “At some stage over the next two or three years, we will have some other sort of betting scandal in some sport. I just hope it's not at the Olympics.”
Robertson declared that western betting authorities were well equipped to identify illegal activities and revealed that the intelligence unit will target syndicates who may try to ‘spot fix’ events or outcomes within matches. “We have a very sophisticated information sharing system so the moment there is any spike in betting activities that is recorded and investigated,” Robertson told the BBC. “We're reasonably clear that we can police the UK end of it. The much more difficult element is how you police illegal syndicates probably operating a long way away from these shores.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Culture Media and Sport stated the new unit, which will be operational throughout the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, will also be able to report any suspicious activities via an ‘e-mail hotline’.
“It will be able to obtain and draw on information and intelligence from various sources including the Betting Commission, national Olympic commissions and Interpol on any suspicious betting patterns or intelligence surrounding match-fixing,” said the spokesperson.