Intended for healthcare professionals


Fears of an influx of sex workers to major sporting events are unfounded

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 03 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5845
  1. Kathleen Deering, postdoctoral research fellow,
  2. Kate Shannon, assistant professor
  1. 1Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6Z 1Y6
  1. kdeering{at}

No evidence supports these recurrent moral panics

Sensationalised public messaging and media reports raised alarms about the potential for a massive sex work boom, intensified people trafficking, and sexual exploitation in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympics Games.1 2 Fears of an influx of sex workers and increased demand for sex work during major sporting events are often raised in the context of increased public health risks for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, both in terms of risk for local sex workers and for tourists. This was also seen in the lead up to other Olympic (Canada) and FIFA World Cup events (South Africa, Germany), and such concerns continue to be replicated despite a lack of public health evidence to support them.

Research that examined past events in Germany, South Africa, and Canada could not substantiate any of the myths about an increase in sex work and trafficking.3 The 2006 World Cup in Germany resulted in a negligible increase in sex workers, and concerns about trafficking were deemed groundless.4 No evidence of a mass influx of foreign sex workers advertising online and in local newspapers was seen during or after the …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription