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394 Preventing intentional injury (harassment and abuse) in sport: assessing athletes’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about their human rights in the olympic and paralympic movements
  1. Demetri Goutos1,
  2. Sheree Bekker2,
  3. Natalie Galea3,
  4. Katharina Grimm4,
  5. Margo Mountjoy5,
  6. Yetsa Tuakli-Wosornu1
  1. 1Sports Equity Lab in association with Yale University, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, USA
  2. 2Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  3. 3Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  4. 4ShePower Sport, London, UK
  5. 5McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada


Background Egregious cases of athlete abuse continue to demonstrate the link between human rights and sport. However, it is unclear if athletes see themselves as rights-holders in the sports context, and what this means for preventing intentional injury (harassment and abuse).

Objective Assess athletes’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about their rights as articulated by the International Olympic Committee Athletes Rights Declaration.

Design Cross-sectional web-based survey.

Setting Web-based communication and social media platforms used to assess elite athletes.

Participants 645 athletes participating in the Olympic and Paralympic movements, representing 70 countries.

Intervention Athletes and sport organizations distributed the survey to Para and non-disabled athletes. Data was collected from February to September 2020.

Main Outcomes Part 1 (Knowledge construct) used yes/no questions to test athletes’ knowledge of five rights from the IOC Declaration. Part 2 (Attitudes/Beliefs construct) used Likert scales to test agreement with eight plain language right statements. Correlation analysis examined the relationship between athletes’ knowledge and their attitudes/beliefs. Demographic data were analyzed for trends.

Results Athletes’ knowledge of the right to protect their name, image, and performance, as well as their right to unbiased redress for rights violations, was weakest. There were varied perceptions about freedom of expression and how acceptable ‘pressure’ from coaches and teammates was. There was low correlation between athletes’ knowledge of a right and their positive attitudes and beliefs about embodying that right in sport-specific scenarios. Gender and union membership significantly impacted athletes’ rights-experience.

Conclusions Athletes have incomplete knowledge and mixed perceptions of their rights in the sports realm. Furthermore, knowledge of their rights does not guarantee athletes’ confidence in defending those rights during real-life sport experiences. To prevent athlete harassment and abuse, a culture change is required in sport. This cannot happen until athletes’ rights are clearly understood and guaranteed by all.

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