IOC to use AI to help protect Paris Olympians from cyber abuse

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The International Olympic Committee will deploy AI to block any abuse on social media directed at 15,000 athletes and officials at the Paris Olympics next month, president Thomas Bach said 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 July 26 with more than 10,500 athletes competing across 32 sports. They are 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 said at a news 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.

"The IOC will instead provide a pro-active AI safeguarding tool to protect athletes from cyber abuse. 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 flags but have been allowed to take part 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, Euroskeptic National Rally came out on top in a vote for the European Parliament.