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Sports injuries and illnesses during the London Summer Olympic Games 2012
  1. Lars Engebretsen1,2,3,
  2. Torbjørn Soligard1,
  3. Kathrin Steffen3,
  4. Juan Manuel Alonso4,
  5. Mark Aubry5,
  6. Richard Budgett1,
  7. Jiri Dvorak6,7,
  8. Manikavasagam Jegathesan8,9,10,
  9. Willem H Meeuwisse11,
  10. Margo Mountjoy12,
  11. Debbie Palmer-Green13,
  12. Ivor Vanhegan14,
  13. Per A Renström15
  1. 1Medical & Scientific Department, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  2. 2Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3Department of Sports Medicine, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Monte Carlo, Monaco
  5. 5International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), Zurich, Switzerland
  6. 6Fédération Internationale de Football de Football Association (FIFA), Zurich, Switzerland
  7. 7FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Center (F-MARC) and Schulthess Klinik, Zurich, Switzerland
  8. 8Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), Hawalli, Kuwait
  9. 9Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), London, UK
  10. 10Olympic Council of Malaysia (MAS), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  11. 11Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  12. 12Fédération International de Natation (FINA), Lausanne, Switzerland
  13. 13Division of Orthopaedic and Accident Surgery, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  14. 14University College London, London, UK
  15. 15Stockholm Sports Trauma Research Center, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Torbjørn Soligard, Medical & Scientific Department, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne 1007, Switzerland; torbjorn.soligard{at}


Background The Olympic Movement Medical Code encourages all stakeholders to ensure that sport is practised without danger to the health of the athletes. Systematic surveillance of injuries and illnesses is the foundation for developing preventive measures in sport.

Aim To analyse the injuries and illnesses that occurred during the Games of the XXX Olympiad, held in London in 2012.

Methods We recorded the daily occurrence (or non-occurrence) of injuries and illnesses (1) through the reporting of all National Olympic Committee (NOC) medical teams and (2) in the polyclinic and medical venues by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games’ (LOCOG) medical staff.

Results In total, 10 568 athletes (4676 women and 5892 men) from 204 NOCs participated in the study. NOC and LOCOG medical staff reported 1361 injuries and 758 illnesses, equalling incidences of 128.8 injuries and 71.7 illnesses per 1000 athletes. Altogether, 11% and 7% of the athletes incurred at least one injury or illness, respectively. The risk of an athlete being injured was the highest in taekwondo, football, BMX, handball, mountain bike, athletics, weightlifting, hockey and badminton, and the lowest in archery, canoe slalom and sprint, track cycling, rowing, shooting and equestrian. 35% of the injuries were expected to prevent the athlete from participating during competition or training. Women suffered 60% more illnesses than men (86.0 vs 53.3 illnesses per 1000 athletes). The rate of illness was the highest in athletics, beach volleyball, football, sailing, synchronised swimming and taekwondo. A total of 310 illnesses (41%) affected the respiratory system and the most common cause of illness was infection (n=347, 46%).

Conclusions At least 11% of the athletes incurred an injury during the games and 7% of the athletes’ an illness. The incidence of injuries and illnesses varied substantially among sports. Future initiatives should include the development of preventive measures tailored for each specific sport and the continued focus among sport bodies to institute and further develop scientific injury and illness surveillance systems.

  • Achilles tendon

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