AI to erase abusive posts to athletes at Paris Olympics-IOC. GETTY IMAGES

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will use artificial intelligence (AI) to prevent social media abuse directed at athletes during Paris 2024.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will use artificial intelligence (AI) to prevent social media abuse directed at the 15,000 athletes and officials during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, its president Thomas Bach has announced.

The sporting event, which will be held in the French capital, will officially begin on 26 July and will feature more than 10,500 athletes competing in 32 sports. These athletes will be protected from social media abuse by an AI-based monitoring service that will detect such threats.

Bach had previously indicated that AI would be used in various aspects of the upcoming Paris Olympics. According to the IOC, more than 500 million social media interactions are expected to take place over the 16 days of the event.

The system will monitor thousands of accounts in real time, allowing platforms to take action in many cases before the athlete has a chance to see the abuse. "One aspect is protection, as we expect 500 million messages on social media during the event," he noted.

"The IOC will provide a proactive protection tool using artificial intelligence to protect athletes from cyber abuse," said the IOC President, explaining, "This will automatically delete abusive messages to protect athletes."

The tool was successfully tested during the Olympic Esports Week, where it monitored social media content directed at athletes. It identified insults, offensive images or phrases indicative of abuse, analysing over 17,000 posts and detecting 199 abusive messages from 48 authors directed at 122 players. 

This pilot study helped the IOC understand the scope, scale and severity of the online abuse problem and provided a model for monitoring, analysis and action. During Paris 2024, IOC protection officers will be deployed in the Olympic Village to monitor all incidents.

The solution works on the main social media platforms and in the main languages. According to the IOC, the service will "ensure that social media platforms can effectively deal with abusive messages and that legal action can be taken quickly if necessary, relieving athletes of this burden". 

Bach also assured that the measures "will cover all types of abuse, not just political attacks". It is important to remember that the 2024 Olympics will take place in the context of the war in Ukraine, following the Russian invasion in 2022, and the armed conflict between Hamas and Israel in Gaza. Both events have already led to cases of social media abuse.

The International Olympic Committee has drawn up a plan to integrate artificial intelligence into various aspects of the sporting competition that brings together athletes from around the world. The new technologies will reportedly be used to identify talent, improve athletes' performance and assist referees and judges in various competitions. 

"We must lead change, not hinder it," said Bach, who called on authorities and AI development companies to work together to integrate this technology into the sporting arena.