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Sports injury and illness incidence in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games: a prospective study of 2914 athletes from 92 countries
  1. Torbjørn Soligard1,2,
  2. Debbie Palmer3,4,
  3. Kathrin Steffen5,
  4. Alexandre Dias Lopes6,
  5. Marie-Elaine Grant7,
  6. DooSup Kim8,9,
  7. Sae Yong Lee8,10,
  8. Natalia Salmina11,
  9. Brett G Toresdahl12,
  10. Joon Young Chang8,
  11. Richard Budgett1,
  12. Lars Engebretsen1,5
  1. 1 Medical and Scientific Department, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  2. 2 Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  3. 3 School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4 Division of Rheumatology, Orthopaedics and Dermatology, University of Nottingham School of Medicine, Nottingham, UK
  5. 5 Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Oslo, Norway
  6. 6 Department of Physical Therapy & Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
  7. 7 Institute of Sport and Health, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  8. 8 Yonsei Institute of Sports Science and Exercise Medicine, Wonju, The Republic of Korea
  9. 9 Orthopaedic Surgery, Wonju College of Medicine, Yonsei University, Wonju, The Republic of Korea
  10. 10 Department of Physical Education, Yonsei University, Seoul, The Republic of Korea
  11. 11 GE Healthcare, Moscow, Russian Federation
  12. 12 Primary Care Sports Medicine Service, Department of Medicine, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York City, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Torbjørn Soligard, Medical and Scientific Department, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland; torbjorn.soligard{at}


Objective To describe the incidence of injuries and illnesses sustained during the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, hosted by PyeongChang on 9–25 February 2018.

Methods We recorded the daily number of athlete 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 PyeongChang 2018 medical staff.

Results In total, 2914 athletes (1210 women, 42%; 1704 men, 58%) from 92 NOCs were observed for occurrence of injury and illness. NOC and PyeongChang 2018 medical staff reported 376 injuries and 279 illnesses, equalling 12.6 injuries and 9.4 illnesses per 100 athletes over the 17-day period. Altogether, 12% of the athletes incurred at least one injury and 9% at least one illness. The injury incidence was highest in ski halfpipe (28%), snowboard cross (26%), ski cross (25%), snowboard slopestyle (21%) and aerials (20%), and lowest in Nordic combined, biathlon, snowboard slalom, moguls and cross-country skiing (2%–6%). Of the 376 injuries recorded, 33% and 13% were estimated to lead to ≥1 day and >7 days of absence from sport, respectively. The highest incidences of illness were recorded in biathlon (15%), curling (14%), bobsleigh (14%) and snowboard slalom (13%). Thirty per cent of the illnesses were expected to result in time loss, and 70% affected the respiratory system. Women suffered 61% more illnesses than men.

Conclusion Overall, 12% of the athletes incurred at least one injury during the Games and 9% an illness, incidences that are similar to the Olympic Winter Games of 2010 and 2014.

  • surveillance
  • injury
  • illness
  • winter sports
  • elite athletes
  • prevention

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the study conception and design, and data collection and interpretation. TS analysed the data and drafted the paper. All authors provided revisions and contributed to the final manuscript. TS is the guarantor.

  • Funding The IOC funded the data collection of the study.

  • Competing interests TS works as Scientific Manager in the Medical and Scientific Department of the IOC. LE is Head of Scientific Activities in the Medical and Scientific Department of the IOC, and Editor of the British Journal of Sports Medicine and Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was reviewed by the Medical Research Ethics Committee of the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority (2011/388).

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

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.