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26 November 2013

Factsheet 3

Safeguarding major public events against corruption

PANAMA CITY/VIENNA, 26 November (UN Information Service) - Major public events involve complex logistical arrangements, years of planning and can span more than one nation. Examples of these events include: the FIFA World Cup, the Olympic Games, golf's Ryder Cup, cycling's Tour de France, as well as international political events such as the G20 Summits.

Success depends largely on the reputation and credibility of the organizer. Given the huge amounts of money involved, both in the organization of, and the income derived from major public events, any failure can have enormous political, financial and economic consequences for agencies, sponsors and countries.

But, the exceptional nature of these events increases the likelihood that regulations and procedures might be set aside or ignored. These problems are exacerbated by the shortness of time for the delivery of large scale infrastructure projects often leading to a lack of oversight and transparency in the allocation of public funds.  

The facts about the size and scale of major public events

• When Canada hosted the 2010 G8 Summit, the host region received US$50 million in funding for projects to enhance the area, provide a lasting legacy, and help ensure a safe and secure summit (A Strategy for Safeguarding against Corruption at Major Public Events, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 2013).
• The International Olympic Committee IOC) is reputed to have earned around US$1.7 billion from the television rights for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics Games. (A Strategy for Safeguarding against Corruption at Major Public Events, UNODC, 2013).
• According to the Nielsen ratings body the London Olympics were the most watched event in TV history in the United States with 219.4 million Americans tuning into the games. (Nielsen.)
• The Rugby World Cup held in 2007 brought an additional 400,000 visitors to France in September/October 2007 creating an estimated economic impact of nearly US$5.5 billion at today's currency values (Rugby World Cup 2011 Factsheet, Economic Impact and Tourism, Rugby New Zealand, 2011.)

Identifying the challenges  

• Hiring: the fact that major events usually require the recruitment, training and supervision of a large staff, directly or indirectly, is a source of vulnerability to corruption or bribery.
• Procurement: large-scale procurement and contracting activities involved in the organization of a major event can test the limits and efficiency of existing procurement systems and practices.
• Protecting whistle blowers: preventing reprisals against individuals who speak out is essential to ensure disclosure of suspicions of corrupt acts and, ultimately, to reinforce the integrity of an organization.
• Promoting awareness among sponsors: sponsorship is vulnerable to corruption. It is vital that sponsors are made aware of potential corruption and ways to prevent it.

Addressing the Challenges

• Before the June 2010 G8 and G20 Summits, Canada established the Summits Management Office to manage the organization, infrastructure, and logistics of all events.
• For the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, individuals in management were expected to play a leadership role in demonstrating integrity. An accountability system was set in place and a tracking system created. There were serious consequences for those violating its provisions.
• In Brazil, the World Cup Management Committee, the CGCOPA, was established to provide a governance structure for the organization of the event. Twenty-five ministries and secretariats with ministerial status are part of the CGCOPA.
• For the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the Public Olympic Authority (APO) was created by the Brazilian Government which is coordinating the participation of the Federal Government, the State of Rio de Janeiro and the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro in the preparation of the Games.

UNODC: helping to develop anti-corruption practices that work

Success in preventing corruption in the organization of major events is linked to a number of interrelated factors. The main factors that have been identified are:
•  The presence of political determination and commitment to address the issue;
•  A central, singular and accountable authority responsible for the delivery of the event;
•  A shared commitment to prevent corruption among key stakeholders;
•  A sound and transparent governance, organizational and accountability structure;
• A strategic approach to corruption prevention based on a systematic and continuous risk assessment process;
•  Effective leadership in the implementation of a comprehensive risk management strategy;
•  The presence of effective compliance monitoring schemes; and
•  A commitment to transparency and integrity in public reporting.

UNCAC: promoting accountability and transparency worldwide

The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) calls for creating policies and practices with built-in safeguards against corruption. Those especially relevant to the organization of major events can include:
•  Creating temporary or permanent special legislation or regulations to support the organization of a major event.
•  Establishing an agency or agencies responsible for anti-corruption oversight.
•  Defining the mandate of public authorities or specifying the division of tasks and responsibilities among public and private partners.
•  Creating institutional capacity to manage the organization of major events.
•  Monitoring the flow of funds and expenditure of public funds, especially in the areas of construction, infrastructure development and event security operations.
•  Examining the effectiveness of preparatory work and related decision making processes.
•  Specifying a clear, transparent and accountable governance structure for the agency responsible for the organization of the major event.

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For further information please contact:

David Dadge, Spokesperson, UNODC
Mobile: (+507) 6800 3353 Email: david.dadge[at]
Anne Thomas, Information Officer, UNIS Vienna
Mobile: (+507) 6800 2981 Email: anne.thomas[at]

For further information visit:

Conference website of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):

Conference website of the Host Country:

For more information on UNODC's work against corruption visit:

Follow @UNODC on Twitter and join the conversation using #NoToCorruption and #CoSP5.