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Health promotion through sport: international sport federations’ priorities, actions and opportunities
  1. Margo Mountjoy1,2,
  2. A Costa3,
  3. R Budgett4,
  4. J Dvorak5,
  5. L Engebretsen4,
  6. S Miller6,
  7. J Moran7,
  8. J Foster8,
  9. J Carr8
  1. 1Department of Family Medicine, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
  2. 2Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. 3Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
  4. 4International Olympic Committee (IOC), Lausanne, Switzerland
  5. 5Department of Neurology, Spine Unit and Swiss Concussion Center Schulthess Clinic, Zurich, Switzerland
  6. 6International Tennis Federation (ITF), London, UK
  7. 7International Skating Union (ISU), Lausanne, Switzerland
  8. 8Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Margo Mountjoy; mmsportdoc{at}


Objective To identify areas of priority and activity for international sportsfederations (IFs) with respect to athlete health and safety, and global health. Results serve to direct the work of the Association of Summer Olympic IF Medical and Scientific Consultative Group, the International Olympic Committee and to influence IFs’ planning and priorities.

Methods The 28 IFs participating in the Summer Olympic Games (2016) were asked to rank the relative importance of 11 health-related topics and to report their activities or research initiatives on 27 identified topics using an electronic survey. A comparison with a similar survey (2012) was made.

Results The response rate was 100%. In general, the ‘fight against doping’ had the highest priority followed by ‘image as a safe sport’. The topics with the lowest importance ratings were ‘increasing the number of elite athletes’, and ‘health of the general population’. Despite ranking ‘health of your athletes,’ as a top priority, IFs are not addressing all aspects of athlete health. In comparison with 2012, there was a significant decrease in priority for IFs is ‘health of the general population’.

Conclusion Despite the widespread knowledge of the importance of the promotion of physical activity (sport) on global health, the decreasing priority and programming of the IFs on physical activity promotion is concerning. Although IFs have prioritised the protection of the health of elite athletes, there are gaps in programming demonstrating that IFs are missing important areas of athlete health. Improving recreational athlete health programming could also benefit population health as well as improve IF fan base and sport participation.

  • Health promotion
  • prevention
  • sports injury
  • non-communicable disease
  • elite athletes.

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  • Twitter @margo.mountjoy @asoif

  • Contributors MM: first author, substantial contributions to conception and design, data collection, interpretation of results, drafting and revising the manuscript and final version to be published. AC: second author, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting and revising the manuscript and final approval of the version to be published. RB, JD, LE, SM and JM: substantial contributions to implementation, revising the manuscript and approval of final version to be published.

  • Funding ASOIF provided assistance with the survey implementation through the support of PWC.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There is no unpublished data from the study.

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