Indian Betting Syndicates Could Mar London Olympics

In 2011 the issue of match fixing in sports reared its head during several events. According to Hugh Robertson, Britain’s Olympics minister, it now threatens the most hallowed of sporting events, the Olympic Games. Speaking to Sky News, Robertson said, that “enormous illegal betting syndicates in both the Indian subcontinent and across the far east” could compromise the integrity of the London 2012 Olympics.

The reason given by the Minister for the Indian connection is as follows. In India gambling is illegal but there is a culture of engaging in betting behind closed doors, in back rooms and such places. As it is, it is very difficult to police such activity. But the problem is enhanced by the Indian authorities’ refusal to acknowledge that sports fixers operate from the country.

The IOC used betting early warning systems during the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008 and the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 and these indicated that the Games were free from this malaise. A joint intelligence unit, consisting of the International Olympic Committee, Britain’s Gambling Commission watchdog and the police, will constantly elicit information from betting firms, national Olympic committees and Interpol.

The athletes and the accompanying staff have been banned from placing bets, this precaution most certain is to address match fixing. E-mail hot lines will be available for reporting suspicious activity. But despite all possible precautions being taken, Robertson’s rhetoric is indicative of a fear that something can go wrong.