The UK is setting up a specialist team to make sure the summer’s Olympic Games don’t fall prey to fixing. The International Olympic Committee, Gambling Commission and even the police will be involved in sniffing out any betting syndicates aiming to prey upon athletes competing in the games.
A spokesperson from the Department for Culture Media and Sport told the Times of India: “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.”
Sports Minister Hugh Robertson added: “We have a very sophisticated information sharing system, so the moment there is any spike in betting activities that is recorded and investigated.
At the same time he’s worried about the global element involved, and stated: “The much more difficult element is how you police illegal syndicates probably operating a long way away from these shores.”
Those involved in policing and governing next summer’s games are becoming worried about the effect spot fixing could have. The Times of India reported that Robertson said: “Just consider how easy it is to bet on something like the first short corner in a hockey game – any team sport you can bet on an individual action or occurrence.”
“So you look at the number of team sports that there are in the Olympics and the threat – the real threat – becomes very obvious,” he said.
One thing counting in favor of the games not being overrun by betting syndicates are the prison sentences handed down to the three Pakistani cricketers. Many that may have thought about involving themselves with fixing in the past will have immediately been put off by the chance of receiving a similar sentence for their first offence.
Robertson also told the Sunday Times: “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 is not at the Olympics
“You cannot underestimate the threat this poses because the moment that spectators start to feel that what they are seeing in front of them is not a true contest, that is when spectators stop turning up and the whole thing falls to pieces,” he added.
It’s no lie that betting on the games could be the largest in its history and in that sense it’s not the biggest statement ever to stress that gambling syndicates will target the games. In the West, especially the UK, they’re well placed to weed out any betting anomalies that are present. It’s a point Robertson recognizes telling the Sunday Times the West is “well set up” to combat the problems. Being one of the better regulated markets the world-round means that the chance to combat fixing successfully is a lot greater than in other territories and will mean that London is in good stead when the games come round in the summer.