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Olympics: AI to erase abusive posts to athletes at Paris Olympics

photo of Olympics
Tourists walk at Trocadero square in front of the Olympic rings displayed on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic games in Paris, France, June 7, 2024. (REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/File Photo)
Staff Reports | REUTERS

The International Olympic Committee will deploy AI in order to block any abuse on social media directed at 15,000 athletes and officials at the Paris Olympics next month, President Thomas Bach said on Friday.

The Games are being staged amid ongoing wars in Ukraine, following Russia’s invasion in 2022, and between Hamas and Israel in Gaza — events that have already led to cases of abuse on social media.

The Olympics kick off on July 26 with more than 10,500 athletes competing across 32 sports, and is expected to generate more than half a billion social media engagements during the 16 days of the event, according to the IOC.

“The IOC will use AI at Paris in different areas,” Bach told a press conference.

“One is safeguarding, since we expect half a billion social media posts during these Games. If someone were to take only one second to read each post it would take them 16 years to go through,” he said.

“The IOC will instead provide a pro-active AI safeguarding tool to protect athletes from cyberabuse. This AI tool offers extensive monitoring, covering 15,000 athletes and officials. This automatically erases abusive posts to shield athletes.”

Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be competing under their flag but have been allowed to take part only as neutral athletes, angering Moscow.

The measures will cover all kinds of abuse, not just political attacks. The IOC gave no details of what kind of access to their accounts athletes would be expected to give it.

Bach also said political developments in France and upcoming snap parliamentary elections only weeks before the Olympics would not derail either preparations or the Games themselves.

“No, we are not concerned,” Bach said. “Be it the government or the opposition they all express not only their wish but their determination that France presents itself at its best on the occasion of the Olympic Games.”

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday called a snap parliamentary election for the end of the month after the anti-immigration, eurosceptic National Rally came out on top in a vote for the European Parliament.

Editor’s Note: Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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