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Olympic Match-Fixing to Be Targeted by U.K. Police, Times Says

Jan. 1 (Bloomberg) -- A dedicated U.K. police unit will be set up to target illegal betting and attempts to bribe athletes at this year’s Olympic Games in London, the Sunday Times said, citing Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson.

The unit, led by the Metropolitan Police, will work with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Interpol to monitor any suspicious gambling activity, the Times said.

“You cannot underestimate the threat this poses because the moment that spectators start to feel that what they are seeing is not a true contest, that is when spectators stop turning up and the whole thing turns to pieces,” Robertson told the newspaper. “At some stage over the next two or three years, we will have some other sort of betting scandal in some sport. I just hope it’s not at the Olympics.”

Robertson said spot-fixing, in which certain elements within a contest are fixed rather than the outcome of a match, is the biggest threat for this year’s games. He said “illegal betting syndicates on the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere” are the main focus.

Three Pakistan cricketers were jailed in November after being convicted of accepting corrupt payments to cheat in a Test match against England at Lord’s cricket ground in London in 2010.

Former captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were caught in an undercover sting by defunct U.K. tabloid The News of the World for plotting to bowl no-balls during the match.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Cone in London at jcone@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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