Olympics: BOA to use specialist company to help tackle online hate during Tokyo 2020

The British Olympic Association (BOA) has secured the services of a specialist security company to help deal with racist, abusive and unwanted online messaging during Tokyo 2020.

The BOA has previously used the company during the 2016 Rio and 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. The company has the ability to analyse and act on threats as well as provide advice for athletes.

Team GB will have a list of all athletes’ social media handles and have a reporting structure in place for them to immediately report and discuss any abuse or unwanted online activity. The service provided for Team GB will also go beyond abuse and threats online.

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Reacting to the online hate suffered by Marcus Rashford and other Manchester United players following their Europa League final defeat to Villarreal on Wednesday, Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England called the abuse a “worrying trend”.

England will be responsible for the welfare needs of the athletes at the Tokyo Games and he acknowledged that plans are in place to help with regards to online hate. Team GB will liaise closely with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during the Games to clamp down on abuse towards athletes and to offer support.

“What the Team GB Olympic team is, is a reflection of Great Britain, of Great British society and the diversity which exists within the United Kingdom, and the Team GB and British Olympic team that you’ll see selected is a reflection of that,” England told Sky Sports News.

“So social media clearly plays an important part in everyday life of many people and what we do to control that is to just allow team leaders from individual sports to have their own protocols. So you’ll see as we get into the games some sports and some athletes will choose not to look at social media and others will thrive on that and that is their confidence builder throughout the games. Certainly, we will be taking a very, very close look at any adverse comments made to any member of the team.

“We’re in constant dialogue with the International Olympic Committee and they’ll have a very, very close lens on this as well and it’s something I now think we now need to look at in light of what happened overnight. I think that’s something we want to look at with all of our team leaders, all of our associated stakeholders and also with the IOC just to make sure that this is something that doesn’t become the story of the games and doesn’t become a story for Team GB athletes.”

With a prominent Japanese newspaper calling for the Tokyo Games to be cancelled in recent days on top of several opinion polls suggesting the Japanese public are in favour of calling off the Olympics, Team GB’s guidance from the IOC and organisers is that they will “100 per cent” be at the Opening Ceremony on July 23.

England believes the fact that Team GB will be fully vaccinated is crucial for Japanese support.

He added: “I believe 85-90 per cent of all athletes will be vaccinated. It’s an important message for us as Team GB to send, it’s a big message to the people in Japan.”

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