Researchers from the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center (MTAC) released a report on Sunday, June 2 identifying pro-Russian propaganda efforts as part of a large-scale operation to vilify the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and “create the expectation of violence breaking out in Paris during the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.”

Security concerns around the Olympics have increased because of the wars in Ukraine and Gaza despite IOC President Thomas Bach saying in May that he had “full confidence” in France’s ability to safeguard the Games, with the introduction of enhanced special anti-terrorism measures.

One disinformation group has used AI-generated audio mimicking the actor Tom Cruise to narrate a so-called documentary entitled Olympics Has Fallen, a play on words referencing the title of the 2013 action movie Olympus Has Fallen. The video, which has been circulating since the fall of 2023, is falsely presented as a “Netflix” documentary.

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According to MTAC the video was the work of the pro-Russian Storm-1679 propaganda group. The video is one of a growing number of Russian bots running a campaign now to disparage the Olympics, France, the host country, and President Emmanuel Macron in revenge for the IOC banning Russian athletes from competing under the country’s flag and France’s leadership.

One of the approaches used by the Kremlin-affiliated groups to dissuade people from attending the games is spreading misinformation surrounding the threat of violence. MTAC says the propaganda offensive is likely to intensify ahead of the July Games – already versions of the documentary have been published in several languages using “generative artificial intelligence” that generates new data streams to extend the video’s contact reach.

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Another group impersonated the France24 media outlet with false reports that almost a quarter of those who had bought tickets for Olympic events had requested refunds because of concerns about possible terror attacks, capitalizing on the fears that still exist from the November 2015 attacks on Stade France and the Bataclan theatre that killed 130 and several ISIS-inspired knife attacks in 2023.

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The pro-Russian doppelganger groups have also been posing as German media outlets attempting to inflame anti-immigration sentiment in the country, and undermine support for Ukraine as well as posing as news sites warning of potential violence aimed at the Olympics.

Russian-based hackers were implicated in attacks against the World Anti-Doping Agency, in 2016 and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

The IOC, Paris 2024 organizers and the Kremlin have yet to respond to media requests for comment on these latest incidents.

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