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Health protection of the Olympic athlete
  1. Kathrin Steffen1,2,
  2. Torbjørn Soligard2,
  3. Lars Engebretsen1,2,3
  1. 1Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Medical and Scientific Department, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. 3Orthopeadic Surgery, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Kathrin Steffen, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, PO 4014 Ullevål Stadion, Oslo, Norway, 806; kathrin.steffen{at}


Protection of the athletes' health is a clearly articulated objective of the International Olympic Committee. Longitudinal surveillance of injuries and illnesses can provide valuable data that may identify high-risk sports and disciplines. This is a foundation for introducing tailored preventive measures. During the XXIX Summer and XXI Winter Games, comprehensive injury and illness recording through the medical staff of the participating National Olympic Committees and the sports medicine clinics revealed that between 7% and 11% of all athletes incurred an injury or suffered from at least one occurrence of illness during the Games. The incidence of injuries and illnesses varied substantially between sports. In the future, risk factor and injury mechanism analyses in high-risk Olympic sports are essential to better direct injury-prevention strategies. Concomitantly, periodic health evaluations of athletes will be instrumental to optimise health protection.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval All information was handled confidentially and the injury reports were anonymised after the Olympic Games. Ethical approval was obtained by the Regional Committee for Medical Research Ethics, Region Øst-Norge, Norway.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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