No rise in sex trafficking for 2010 Games: report

Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:32pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The 2010 Winter Olympics will not lead to a major rise in trafficking of sex-trade workers into Vancouver as some media reports have warned, according to a study for police and community groups.

Thousands of visitors, athletes and media representatives are expected to descend on the city on Canada's Pacific Coast during the Games next February, which will be followed almost immediately by the 2010 Winter Paralympics.

Fears that increased demand for prostitutes will lead to a surge in sex-trade workers arriving in the city -- with many being victims of human-trafficking -- are likely unfounded according to the study, made public on Thursday.

Similar predictions for the 2004 Olympics in Athens and Germany's 2006 World Cup turned out to be wrong, the researchers said.

"Neither location experienced any increase that could be attributed to their hallmark event," said the study that was done for Vancouver police and several groups that provide aid to sex-trade workers.

The researchers noted that similar predictions were also beginning to circulate about the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The failure of the issue to materialize in Greece and Germany may have reflected increased public vigilance, and human-traffickers may not have been willing to invest resources for what are short-lived one-time events, according to the report.

Prostitution is technically legal in Canada, but soliciting or communicating for the purposes of prostitution, or running a brothel, is not. Like most cities, Vancouver has an active sex-trade industry.   Continued...

<p>A statue of famed English mariner Captain George Vancouver frames the Olympic flag flying outside city hall in Vancouver, British Columbia February 18, 2009. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>