Rio 2016 Illness Rates Lower Than Previous Games -- Top Story Replay

26th August, 2017

The study published on July 29 in the British Journal of Medicine “recorded daily incidence of athlete injuries and illnesses through the reporting of all National Olympic Committee medical team and…Rio 2016 medical staff.” The full text from the study can be found here.

Authors of the study were from a worldwide range of medical and academic institutions, including multiple members of the IOC’s medical and scientific department. 
The IOC told Around the Rings the can serve as a way to “monitor trends over time” and better study risks for athletes at the Olympic Games.

“The epidemiological data collected during this program allows us to better plan and provide the most appropriate athlete healthcare at the Olympic Games and other sports events,” the IOC spokesperson said to ATR.

“By recording all athletes’ injuries and illnesses longitudinally, from Games to Games, one can monitor trends over time, and understand not only the magnitude of injury and illness risk in sports and disciplines, but also the effect of changes in venue design, rules or equipment, environmental factors, or others on the athletes’ injury and illness risk.”

Authors of the study were from a worldwide range of medical and academic institutions, including multiple members of the IOC’s medical and scientific department.

The IOC also told ATR that the results of the study and other previous ones commissioned “prompted specific research studies in collaboration with a number of International Federations.” These studies “aim to mitigate risks and protect the health of the athletes” at future events.

Data from the study showed that eight percent of athletes “incurred at least one injury” at Rio 2016, while five percent of athletes contracted an illness. Both percentages were down from the two previous Summer Olympics. Meanwhile, significant variation was seen in different sports in regards to injuries. BMX Cycling and boxing saw the highest rate of injury in Rio.

The study noted the significance about the latter point, given the heightened concerns over the Zika virus as well as the potential for contracting water borne illnesses in Rio’s polluted waters. Ahead of the 2016 Olympics concerns mounted over Rio’s waterways, although the IOC and relevant federations maintained the athletes’ safety.

The state of Rio de Janeiro did not meet its targets of treating sewage entering Guanabara Bay ahead of Rio 2016, and the goal of reaching those targets has been delayed indefinitely.

“While the majority of illnesses in Rio (56%) were caused by an infection, the proportion of athletes contracting an infection (3%) was identical to London 2012 (3%) and lower than Sochi 2014 (5%),” the study read.

Diving, open-water marathon, sailing, canoe slalom, equestrian and synchronized swimming were the sports with the highest rates of illnesses.

The study notes that some “less serious” ailments not requiring medical attention may have been overlooked, and there may have been gaps in data collection from some NOCs.

 

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