PYEONGCHANG, South Korea: As American sport reels from a horrifying sexual abuse scandal, athletes competing in this month’s Pyeongchang Olympics will have access to trauma units for the first time in Games history.
The Winter Olympics open in South Korea on Friday after long-time USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for molesting young athletes in a case that sparked universal shock and anger.
Four counselling centres have been set up by local organisers to offer medical and psychological care to athletes subjected to harassment or abuse.Legal advice will also be on hand to help victims file a police report, according to Games officials.
“We have to protect our athletes and help them avoid and manage any situation,” said International Olympic Committee (IOC) safeguarding officer Susan Greinig.“It’s important to raise awareness. If you learn about something you feel more in control,” said the IOC medical officer, who said national sports federations also recognise more work needs to be done to tackle sexual abuse.
“Our focus is to help the athletes,” added Greinig. “We lose talented athletes and it’s completely a disaster if people don’t come forward. “When we started this work it was very much a taboo subject, but the NOC’s (National Olympic committees) have recognised the destruction it brings to sport.”
Greinig took up her role as safeguarding officer at the 2016 Rio Olympics, when the IOC first created the post, and recommended future local organisers establish their own framework for dealing with sexual harassment.