Over half of the online abuse targeting athletes at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, between August 18 and 28, was of “racist and sexualized nature,” according to the World Athletics.

The governing body revealed in a study on Friday that they analyzed 449,209 posts and comments for abusive content in 16 different languages and additional dialects during the world championships.

“This included text analysis, through searches for slurs and other phrases (including emojis) that could indicate abuse. Image recognition tools were also deployed to flag potentially offensive images. These findings were then compared to results from the previous study, conducted a year earlier at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (15-24 July 2022),” World Athletics said.

“The research once again identified clear instances of online abuse and threats, targeting athletes competing at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23. It detected notable examples of racist and sexualized abuse, with a selection of posts extending into potential action from law enforcement,” the organization added.

Representative image. /CFP

Representative image. /CFP

Representative image. /CFP

The study showed that X, formerly known as Twitter, accounted for nearly 90 percent of detected abuse, marking a relative 500 percent increase from that in 2022. Racist abuse grew by 14 percent compared to 2022. Fifty-one percent of the abuse targeted men, and the rest 49 percent targeted women. Two of the 1,344 athletes monitored by World Athletics received 44 percent of all accounted abuse between them.

“Athletes should not have to accept abuse as an inevitable consequence of being on these social media platforms,” the organization’s CEO Jon Ridgeon said in a statement. “We are the No. 1 Olympic sport and have a responsibility to protect our athletes, on and off the field of play. So as we enter an Olympic year, with the extra attention that brings, we are seeking urgent meetings with these platforms to achieve a greater level of enforcement and safeguarding for our athletes.”

The next edition of the World Athletics Championships will take place in Tokyo, Japan, from September 13 to 21, 2025.

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