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20 February 2014 - News

IOC Injury & Illness Surveillance Study: protecting the athletes’ health

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IOC Injury & Illness Surveillance Study: protecting the athletes’ health ©IOC / Chris Graythen

The protection of athletes’ health is a key priority for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its Medical Commission. At the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the IOC’s medical experts are conducting an extensive surveillance study, collecting invaluable information daily about injuries and illnesses of athletes to assess risk factors and establish prevention strategies.

As was the case at the Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 Olympic Games, the medical research group, composed of members of the IOC Medical Commission, the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, International Federations (IFs) and Research Centres, is monitoring and collecting data from the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) on all individual and team sports, recording any newly acquired illnesses and sports injuries incurred in competition or in training, over the two weeks of the Games.

It is too soon to tell whether the figures recorded at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi will be higher or lower than those recorded at Vancouver 2010, where 11 per cent of athletes suffered an injury and 7 per cent an illness. Figures may differ as the Sochi Games feature a record 98 events in 15 disciplines across seven sports.

However, Professor Lars Engebretsen, head of the medical research team in Sochi, does reveal that figures from the first week “do not significantly differ from the Vancouver numbers. So far, knee injuries are still the most important injury, like in Vancouver in 2010.”

The IOC prevention work is then done by four medical research centres in Calgary, Cape Town, Melbourne and Oslo, which receive yearly grants from the IOC. The injury and illness data collected throughout the Games will be shared with the NOCs and IFs, and used to develop and implement effective prevention strategies to minimise the risk for athletes at all levels.

Sharing this knowledge and establishing concrete measures will be a focus of the IOC World Conference on Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport. Taking place shortly after the Games, from 10 to 12 April in Monaco, this Conference will be a valuable platform of exchange for leading sports and medical experts. It will also be an opportunity to present the main overall findings from the Sochi 2014 injury and surveillance study.

For more information, visit the official Conference website at: www.ioc-preventionconference.org.

Learn more about the IOC Medical Commission

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