The Denver-based U.S. Center for SafeSport was created in 2017 by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to tackle one of the most difficult issues in sports: the safety of the athletes competing. The scandal at USA Gymnastics has underscored just how serious the problems of sexual abuse and other forms of abuse have become for athletes competing in the Olympic and Paralympic movement. The statistics are staggering. While the center initially received about 40 complaints a month when it opened, it now receives nearly 240 a month, with an open caseload of more than 1,000 allegations needing investigation. In July, Ju’Riese Colón was named the center’s new CEO, joining the organization after serving as the vice president of child and club safety at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and previously serving as executive director of prevention and outreach for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Her challenges with the U.S. Center for SafeSport include keeping up with the growing caseload and navigating the delicate politics over which organizations should be funding the center’s work and how. In this podcast, Colón discusses why she took on the job, how the center is prioritizing its work and what host cities and the sports-event industry should be considering and doing when it comes to protecting the athletes competing at events.
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