The integrity of the London 2012 Olympics could be shattered by the "enormous" threat of illegal gambling rings trying to fix results, the Olympics minister said yesterday.
Event-fixing could play "a very real part" at the Olympics, Hugh Robertson said, adding that he was trying to convince other governments to take the threat seriously to avoid a scandal which could scar the Games' reputation. "We know that there are enormous illegal betting syndicates in both the Indian subcontinent and across the far east," Robertson said.
"We know that pressure is very often exerted on athletes and indeed athletes' families. We know it's out there.
"It's very difficult in cultures where they don't admit that gambling takes place, so it all happens behind closed doors, in back rooms and so on and so forth, it all happens illegally."
Illegal betting and event-fixing have not been detected at previous Olympics but Robertson's ramping up of the rhetoric reflects a concern that not enough is being done across the world to clamp down on the activity.
A joint intelligence unit, comprising the International Olympic Committee, Britain's Gambling Commission watchdog and the police, will operate during the 2012 Games, drawing on information from betting firms and national Olympic committees, as well as Interpol.