Sports injury and illness incidence in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Summer Games: A prospective study of 11274 athletes from 207 countries

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Abstract

Objective

To describe the pattern of injuries and illnesses sustained during the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, hosted by Rio de Janeiro from 5 to 21 August 2016.

Methods

We recorded the daily incidence 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 Rio 2016 medical staff.

Results

In total, 11 274 athletes (5089 women, 45%; 6185 men, 55%) from 207 NOCs participated in the study. NOC and Rio 2016 medical staff reported 1101 injuries and 651 illnesses, equalling 9.8 injuries and 5.4 illnesses per 100 athletes over the 17-day period. Altogether, 8% of the athletes incurred at least one injury and 5% at least one illness. The injury incidence was highest in BMX cycling (38% of the athletes injured), boxing (30%), mountain bike cycling (24%), taekwondo (24%), water polo (19%) and rugby (19%), and lowest in canoe slalom, rowing, shooting, archery, swimming, golf and table tennis (0%–3%). Of the 1101 injuries recorded, 40% and 20% were estimated to lead to ≥1 and >7 days of absence from sport, respectively. Women suffered 40% more illnesses than men. Illness was generally less common than injury, with the highest incidence recorded in diving (12%), open-water marathon (12%), sailing (12%), canoe slalom (11%), equestrian (11%) and synchronised swimming (10%). Illnesses were also less severe; 18% were expected to result in time loss. Of the illnesses, 47% affected the respiratory system and 21% the gastrointestinal system. The anticipated problem of infections in the Rio Olympic Games did not materialise, as the proportion of athletes with infectious diseases mirrored that of recent Olympic Games (3%).

Conclusion

Overall, 8% of the athletes incurred at least one injury during the Olympic Games, and 5% an illness, which is slightly lower than in the Olympic Summer Games of 2008 and 2012.

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