Background Little is known about athletes’ understanding of safe sport and occurrence of harassment and abuse in elite youth sport.
Objective To evaluate the IOC Safe Sport educational experience at the Youth Olympic Games 2018 in Buenos Aires and to ascertain the athletes’ (1) understanding of what constitutes harassment and abuse, (2) perception of the occurrence in their sport, and (3) knowledge of where to report.
Methods Athletes visiting the IOC Safe Sport Booth answered a survey related to athletes’ (1) understanding of harassment and abuse in sport, (2) perception of the occurrence of harassment and abuse in their sport, and (3) knowledge of where to report. Experts and volunteers answered an email survey on their experience.
Results The response rate was 71.8%. When asked to define ‘safe sport’, the athletes mainly relate the concept to general physical and environmental safety, fair play and clean sport, rather than sport free from harassment and abuse. Almost half (46%) of the athletes expressed surprise by the definition of behaviours of harassment and abuse within sport. When asked if harassment and/or abuse occur in their sport, 47.5% reported ‘no’ or ‘not likely’, while 34% stated ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’; 19% were ‘unsure’. The majority (63%) of athletes knew where to seek help. Three quarters (71%) of the athletes rated the educational materials as ‘good’ to ‘excellent’. The experts and volunteers believed the intervention would result in change in athletes’ awareness, knowledge and behaviour.
Conclusions This multinational cohort of elite youth athletes is not knowledgeable of the concept of harassment and abuse in sport, despite there being a significant perception of occurrence of harassment and abuse in their sports.
- elite performance
- sexual harassment
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Twitter @margo.mountjoy, @TineVertommen, @Kirsty_Burrows1
Collaborators Rebecca Klimo.
Contributors MM: first author, substantial contributions to the conception and design of the review, interpretation of data. TV: second author, substantial contributions to the conception and design of the review, analysis and interpretation of data. MM and TV were involved in drafting, writing and revising of the manuscript, and final approval of the version to be published. All authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Funding The safeguarding initiative at the Youth Olympic Games 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was funded and delivered by the IOC, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement statement Athletes were not involved in planning the research priorities, research questions, outcome measures, study design or conduct. There has been some discussion with the editors (including Karim Khan, Tracy Blake and Osman Ahmed) about how to describe the engagement with the athlete. Athletes from the IOC Athletes Commission will be informed of the results to use in their outreach programmes relating to harassment and abuse in sport. The results will inform the development of programmes for future editions of the Youth Olympic Games.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval The present concept and design was submitted to McMaster University–Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board, Canada. Ethical approval was not deemed necessary for this study given the embedded levels of strict confidentiality.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.