Little is known about athletes’ understanding of safe sport and occurrence of harassment and abuse in elite youth sport.
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.
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.
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.
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.