By Our Correspondent/Washington, DC
Leaders and international experts from the field of sport safety, security and integrity gathered at Securing Sport 2018 in Washington, DC, this week to highlight the importance of a united approach to protecting sport as well as the urgent need to establish strong multi-sector partnerships to combat the emerging threats in sport safety, security and integrity.
Under the theme of ‘The Business of Protecting the Future of Sport’, Securing Sport 2018 brought together executives and experts from around the world to address key security and integrity issues facing sport and to explore business opportunities associated with major event security, sport governance and integrity and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Organised by the US Chamber of Commerce, the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) and The McCain Institute, with the support of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Securing Sport 2018 featured speakers and panellists from a range of international organisations including the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the Department of Homeland Security, US Center for SafeSport, World Bank, Sport Radar USA and the NFL Players’ Association.
“Sport is an unparalleled economic, social, and cultural force. Yet, it is under attack like never before,” ICSS chairman Mohamed Hanzab said.
“When I established the ICSS nearly eight years ago, I envisaged a world where sport is free from corruption and where stadia and major events were safe and secure for all.
“Through the ICSS and forums like Securing Sport 2018, which gather top international experts from all sectors and corners of the world, I am passionate about making this vision a reality however, if we are to achieve this, it is urgent that we stand together, collaborate and bring together different sectors and expertise to confront the growing threats facing the security and integrity of sport.”
Under the overall conference theme, representatives from the SC also attended the event and provided an update on the latest progress and developments on stadia and infrastructure currently being built for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as well as safety and security measures being put in place for the tournament.
“The safety of everyone attending or participating in the 2022 FIFA World Cup is our top priority. We’re determined to not only deliver the greatest, but also the safest and most secure FIFA World Cup ever and to leave a lasting positive legacy for the region,” SC secretary-general Hassan al-Thawadi said.
“Qatar is already one of the safest countries in the world, making it a popular tourist destination. However, with almost 1.7mn fans due in 2022, our Security Committee, headed by HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, has left no stone unturned in finding and eliminating potential threats.
“From the numerous co-operation agreements put in place with international institutions, including INTERPOL and the ICSS, to enhance the effectiveness of our security initiatives, to the regular observation programmes we conduct to other mega-events, safety and security will remain of the utmost importance to the SC to ensure the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar is as enjoyable and exciting as it is safe in five years’ time.”
As part of Qatar Chamber’s support for the event, QC’s Board member Adel al-Mannai attended on behalf of Chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani and expressed the Chamber’s thank to the ICSS, the US Chamber and the McCain Institute for hosting a very vital event that sought mechanisms of protecting and securing sports worldwide.
Technology and integrity issues in sport
In one of the opening sessions of the day, entitled ‘How Technology and Innovation Provide Safety and Security’, ICSS Enterprise CEO Shaun McCarthy led a panel of technology experts to discuss the role of technology in sport and how it can play a key role in protecting major sport events.
Later in the day, ICSS Insight CEO Emanuel Medeiros moderated the ‘Safeguarding the Integrity of Sport’ panel featuring senior figures from USADA, SportRadar USA, NFL Players’ Association and the World Bank. Panellists debated the impact of legalised sport betting in the United States, as well as the need to educate more athletes about the dangers of doping and match-fixing, including through the use of mobile platforms and applications like the ICSS’s Trusted Athlete app that is currently under development.
Securing Sport 2018 also included a number of highly emotive panels and speeches from high-profile sport stars, international experts and senior figures from US government and other sectors of civil society throughout the day.
“At a time where much of the focus is on the financial growth and commercialisation of sport, Securing Sport 2018 has provided an important and unique platform for leaders and top international experts to come together to identify real solutions to protect and safeguard sport,” Hanzab concluded.
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