Lausanne (Switzerland): Olympic chief Jacques Rogge warned on Tuesday that sports as a whole was in danger from an estimated 140 billion dollars a year in illegal betting worldwide.
His warning came after the International Olympic Committee, some sports officials, friendly governments, Interpol and representatives of betting operators held first a
meeting to discuss how to tackle the problem.
"I think sports is in danger, it`s not about the Olympic Games, it`s about sports as a whole," Rogge said after the meeting agreed to set in motion a concerted attempt to tackle the threat.
Rogge has repeatedly said he fears that illegal and irregular betting threatens the credibility of popular spectator sports through match fixing.
"The turnover invested in illegal betting is 140 billion US dollars, that`s a huge amount of money," he said, citing figures given during the meeting.
"What we have from Interpol is definitely that illegal betting is on the rise, that we have absolutely fight that, there is a sense of urgency," the president of the
International Olympic Committee insisted.
"It`s not about the Olympic Games, it`s about sports in general, what we heard this morning is a clear signal.
"There have been documented cases of cheating and match fixing in Sumo wrestling in Japan, there have been very recently cases very visible in cricket, there have been cases in team sports," he added.
"There is no safe haven in the world."
A spot-fixing scandal left three Pakistan cricketers banned and facing criminal charges, while persistent corruption fears are troubling tennis after several players
were contacted by investigators amid rumours of suspicious betting patterns.
Football has also been grappling with betting scams reaching as deep as fourth division football, according to Rogge.
European football governing body UEFA and world body FIFA have set up their own betting monitoring units in recent years.