Disinformation Threat: Russia’s Plot to Ruin 2024 Paris Olympics Uncovered by Microsoft

Paris, France – Microsoft warns of Russia’s attempt to disrupt the 2024 Paris Olympics through disinformation campaigns using a combination of old propaganda tactics and artificial intelligence. The Kremlin’s objective, according to Microsoft’s threat analysis center, is to tarnish the reputation of the International Olympic Committee and create a sense of impending violence at the upcoming games scheduled for July 26 to August 11 in Paris and various locations across France and its overseas territories.

Clint Watts, general manager of Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center, highlighted Russia’s goal to instill fear in the public and discourage attendance at the Games. The company emphasized the potential escalation of disinformation activities leading up to the Opening Ceremonies.

The Russian Embassy in Washington has yet to respond to requests for comment regarding the allegations.

French President Emmanuel Macron previously accused Russia of targeting the Paris Olympics by spreading narratives questioning France’s readiness to host the Games, a claim dismissed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as baseless.

Dale Buckner, CEO of private security firm Global Guardian and retired U.S. Army colonel, pointed out cyberattacks and information operations as the primary threats facing the Paris Olympics. He expressed concerns that these attacks have likely commenced and are expected to increase as the Games draw near, prompting French authorities to take proactive measures against potential attack groups.

Global Guardian’s report on the Paris Games revealed the involvement of Russian intelligence services in some attacks, while attributing the majority to private criminal organizations with ties to Russian intelligence primarily motivated by profit.

Among the documented disinformation campaigns by Microsoft is a film titled “Olympics Has Fallen,” featuring an AI-generated voice impersonating actor Tom Cruise, criticizing the Olympic committee’s leadership. Other false news clips targeting the Games include claims of a high number of returned tickets due to terrorism fears and a fake security warning from the CIA.

Microsoft highlighted Russia’s historical pattern of undermining the Olympics through propaganda campaigns. The ban on Russian participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics and subsequent restrictions due to state-sponsored doping and military actions have strained relations with the International Olympic Committee.

France has also faced challenges from Russian influence in other areas, such as incidents of anti-Semitic symbolism linked to potential Russian interference. French President Macron condemned the acts, reiterating concerns over Russia’s potential involvement.

Buckner emphasized Russia’s intent to exploit societal tensions within France to incite negative discourse leading up to the Games. With ongoing conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, Russian efforts to fuel discord are expected to persist, posing a unique challenge compared to previous Olympics held in different geopolitical contexts.