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Wrestling injuries during the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games
  1. Babak Shadgan1,2,
  2. Nima Molavi3,
  3. Elena Abaeva1,
  4. Saam Falahati1,
  5. Stevan Sikimic1,
  6. Loukas Konstantinou1,
  7. Szabolcs Molnar1,4
  1. 1 Medical, Prevention and Anti-Doping Commission, United World Wrestling, Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland
  2. 2 Department of Orthopaedics, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3 The University of British Columbia - Vancouver Campus, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4 Central Hospital of Northern Pest - Military Hospital, Budapest, Hungary, Budapest, Hungary
  1. Correspondence to Dr Babak Shadgan; shadgan{at}


Objectives To evaluate and compare the injuries of Olympic wrestlers during the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games held in August 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods In this descriptive epidemiological study, injury report forms were used to collect and analyse injury data during the competitions.

Results During 410 matches in the Rio Olympic Games, 21 injuries were recorded among 346 wrestlers (112=women), a rate of 5.1 injuries/100 bouts and 6.1 injuries/100 athletes. During 322 matches in the Tokyo Olympic Games, 28 injuries were recorded among 287 wrestlers (96=women), with 8.7 injuries/100 bouts and 9.8 injuries/100 athletes. However, these apparent differences in injury rates between Tokyo and Rio were not statistically significant (injuries/bout: p=0.057, 95% CI: 0.31 to 1.02; injuries/athlete: p=0.087, 95% CI: 0.33 to 1.08). Mild injuries comprised the greatest proportion of injuries in both Olympic Games. Severe injuries accounted for 0%, 16.7% and 36.4% of injuries in Greco-Roman, Freestyle and Women’s wrestling, respectively.

Conclusion Most wrestling injuries in the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were mild skin injuries in the head and face regions due to direct body contact during standing positions in the 1/8-final round of wrestling competitions. No critical injury was observed during the recent Olympic Games. Attention should be drawn to preventing upper limb joint dislocations as common severe injuries in both Olympic Games. While not statistically significant, the Tokyo Games, after the COVID-19 pandemic, witnessed a higher injury occurrence than the Rio Games.

  • Injury prevention
  • Athletic Injuries
  • Covid-19

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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  • Contributors BS and SM were responsible for the idea and conception of the study, which was discussed and reviewed by EA, SS and LK at the UWW Medical Commission. BS, EA, SS, LK and SM collected all data. NM and BS conducted the analyses, which were planned and checked with SF, SS, LK and SM. All authors contributed to the interpretation of findings and concluding the outcomes. BS, NM, SF and SM wrote the first draft of the paper, which was critically reviewed and revised by all authors. The final manuscript has been approved by all authors. BS is the study guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

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