World Athletics has found that female athletes were the target of 87 percent of all online abuse at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The findings come from a study conducted during the Games and published on Thursday.
It follows the launch of World Athletics’ new safeguarding policy last month, which highlights the concern that social media platforms need stronger safeguarding policies to protect athletes.
Using a sample of 161 Twitter handles of current and former athletes involved in Tokyo, the study tracked their accounts starting one week before the opening ceremony of the Olympics and concluded the day after the closing ceremony.
The results found sexist, racist, transphobic and homophobic abuse of athletes, as well as unfounded doping accusations.
The study said: “It also unequivocally highlights the greater levels of abuse female athletes receive in comparison to their male counterparts.”In addition, the results found that 65 percent of abusive posts were deemed gravely abusive and warranted intervention from social media platforms.
“When we published our Safeguarding Policy earlier this month, I said athletics clubs, schools and community sports environments should be safe and happy places for those in our sport,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said in the report.
“In a world where we share so much of our lives online, this must apply to the virtual, as well as the physical world. This research is disturbing in so many ways but what strikes me the most is that the abuse is targeted at individuals who are celebrating and sharing their performances and talent as a way to inspire and motivate people.
“To face the kinds of abuse they have is unfathomable and we all need to do more to stop this. Shining a light on the issue is just the first step.”
World Athletics said in the study that it will work closely with Twitter to take appropriate action against the perpetrators and has notified the platform of the abusive posts uncovered in the research.