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Background: the prevalence of sarcopenia varies widely between studies. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of sarcopenia in a representative sample of persons aged 80 years and older according to the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) algorithm and the proposed cut-off values. A secondary aim was to investigate the relationship between different individual criteria and low physical performance capacity.Methods: baseline data of the prospective BELFRAIL study (BFC80+) were analysed. Sarcopenia status was determined according to the EWGSOP guidelines. The skeletal muscle mass index (SMI) was assessed according to bioelectrical impedance. Muscle strength and muscle performance were evaluated according to grip strength and the modified short physical performance battery (SPPBm). A logistic regression analysis was performed.Results: according to the EWGSOP algorithm, 12.5% of the participants were classified in the sarcopenia group. Sixty percent of the female participants had muscle strength values below the cut-off and 70% had low SPPBm values. In males, these prevalence values were 49.5% for grip strength and 39.7% for SPPB. The logistic regression analysis showed that low SPPBm was associated with grip strength (OR: 0.88, 95% CI: 0.84–0.92) independent of SMI.Conclusion: in a population-based sample of the very old the prevalence of sarcopenia according to the EWGSOP algorithm is similar to the prevalence of sarcopenia with SMI as a single criterion. A large number of participants with a sufficient SMI value showed low muscle strength and/or a poor SPPBm score. A low SPPBm was associated with grip strength but not with SMI.