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  • Tuesday Talk -- SportAccord President on Illegal Betting, Mind Games, Multi-Sport Events


    Hein Verbruggen is SportAccord president as well as an honorary IOC member and former president of the International Cycling Union. (ATR)
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     (ATR) SportAccord president Hein Verbruggen tells Around the Rings the umbrella association for international sports federations will tackle the threat of irregular and illegal betting head-on in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics.

    "We have potentially a big problem with match-fixing and illegal betting. SportAccord has developed norms and standards. We have got a lot of knowhow from certain federations that we can transfer to other federations," he told ATR.

    "The International Cricket Council is very active in fighting match-fixing, so they are helping us set standards to create a transfer of knowledge."

    The ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, set-up in 2000 following a corruption scandal, is tasked with pursuing the three objectives of investigation, education, and prevention. Last autumn, the unit investigated the Pakistani spot-fixing scandal that led to bans for three players.

    An IOC-coordinated task force was launched last month to combat illegal and irregular sports betting. It came in the wake of a Lausanne summit featuring a handful of sports ministers, leaders from the international federations and representatives from a number of NOCs.

    While the Olympics have yet to suffer a betting scandal, Verbruggen believes the 89 member IFs of SportAccord and 15 associate members must not be complacent but work together to implement preventive measures to ensure the integrity of their sports.

    Verbruggen says this year's SportAccord Convention at the heart of London is an exciting moment for the summer and winter Olympic international federations in the build-up to 2012.

    For the non-Olympic federations, the gathering is an opportunity "to have a little smell of the Olympics" with various Games-related events and venue tours for delegates.
    London's velodrome is shown in this aerial shot dated March 24. (Olympic Delivery Authority)

    Verbruggen -- the former president of the international cycling federation (UCI) – says the 2012 velodrome is a must-see.
    "I've heard from the UCI and IOC that it's an unbelievably magnificent piece of work and I'm looking forward to seeing it," he says.

    Expansion of Multi-Sport Games

    The Dutchman, who is also chairman of the SportAccord International Convention, says the IFs body continues to thrive through the support and services it offers to members.

    Delighted with the success of the first SportAccord Combat Games in Beijing last year, the organization of multisport events for his member federations is high on the agenda for the next few years.
    SportAccord's inaugural Combat Games featured 13 martial arts and combat sports, both Olympic and non-Olympic. (Getty Images)

    In December, the first World Mind Games will take place in Beijing. Around 170 elite players will compete in the five sports on the program - chess, bridge, draughts, go and xiang qi. With more than 500 million registered mind sports players globally, Verbruggen expects huge interest.

    He's quick to emphasize that it's not so much a major sports event -- "much more of a festival" with a mix of sport-related and social events running alongside the main competition.

    "There are so many sports events in the world. We don't want to imitate these games, we are trying to create a new concept. How can we link the outside world to these kinds of things?"

    A similar approach will be taken to the first SportAccord Beach Games at the end of 2012 or start of 2013. The host city is not yet decided, but Verbruggen says there has been "very positive" interest from several cities in Central and South America. After that, the next Combat Games will be staged in Russia in 2013.

    SportAccord's new online video platform for federations known as the 'Sports Hub' will become a major promotional tool for these multisport events, he says.

    Launched last year, it offers IFs, particularly smaller federations, the opportunity to broaden their global fan base via the online resource.

    "We need to attract people and use our Sports Hub on You Tube to say that this city in 2013 is proud to be the combat sports capital," he says by way of example. "We want to be different, to build these events up and say we will go two or three times to the same city."
    Written by
    Mark Bisson

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