Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Sports injuries and illnesses at the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Winter Games: a prospective study of 1783 athletes from 79 countries
  1. Debbie Palmer1,2,
  2. Lars Engebretsen3,4,
  3. Justin Carrard5,
  4. Natalia Grek6,
  5. Karsten Königstein5,
  6. Debbie J Maurer7,8,
  7. Thomas Roos9,
  8. Lauren Stollenwerk10,
  9. Stephane Tercier4,11,
  10. Raphael Weinguni12,
  11. Torbjørn Soligard4,13
  1. 1School of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences Department of Sports Medicine, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4Medical and Scientific Department, International Olympic Committee, Lausanne, Switzerland
  5. 5Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  6. 6GE Healthcare Moscow, Moscow, Russian Federation
  7. 7Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Sports Medicine, Davos Hospital, Davos, Switzerland
  8. 8Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research (SIAF), University of Zurich, Davos, Switzerland
  9. 9International Academy of Sport Science and Technology, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  10. 10Medical School, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  11. 11SportAdo Centre, Department of Women–Mother–Child, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland
  12. 12Advanced Medical Post Detachment, Protection and Rescue Service, Lausanne, Switzerland
  13. 13Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Debbie Palmer, Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ, UK; dpalmer{at}


Objective To describe the injury and illness characteristics among participating athletes during the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Winter Games (YOG 2020), 9–22 January 2020.

Methods The daily number of athlete injuries and illnesses were recorded (1) through the reporting of all National Olympic Committee (NOC) medical teams and (2) in the polyclinic and medical venues by the Lausanne 2020 medical staff.

Results In total, 1783 athletes from 79 NOCs were observed. NOC and Lausanne 2020 medical staff reported 228 injuries and 167 illnesses, equating 11.7 injuries and 8.6 illnesses per 100 athletes over the 14-day period. Injury incidence was highest for snowboard slopestyle (39%), bobsleigh (36%), snowboard big air (29%), ski slopestyle (29%), snowboard cross (24%) and ski cross (21%), and lowest for speed skating, snowboard halfpipe and curling (2%–4%). The highest incidence of illness was recorded for curling (21%), ski mountaineering (15%), snowboard halfpipe (13%), bobsleigh (11%), cross-country skiing (10%) and figure skating (10%). Almost one-third of injuries were expected to result in time loss and 17% of illnesses. Most injuries occurred to the knee (12%) and head (11%), and 64% of illnesses affected the respiratory system. Overall, women suffered more injuries and illness than males.

Conclusion Overall, injury and illness rates were similar compared with recent YOG. While the rate and characteristics of injury and illness varied between sports, consistent patterns across YOG are emerging. If addressed, changes in highlighted areas of risk could have a positive impact on the health and well-being of these young athletes.

  • injury
  • illness
  • injury prevention
  • athlete
  • sport

Statistics from


  • Twitter @DebbiePalmerOLY, @larsengebretsen, @CarrardJustin, @KarstenKnigste1, @debbiejmaurer, @lauren_zh, @TSoligard

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the study conception and design, data collection and interpretation. DP analysed the data and drafted the paper. All authors provided revisions and contributed to the final manuscript. DP 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 approved by the medical research ethics committee of the Southeastern Norway Regional Health Authority (REK no. 67524), in line with previous youth and senior Olympic Games studies.

  • 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 supplemental information.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.