New Olympic Sports Have a Concerning Relationship With Injury Rates

Seven brand-new sports, including climbing and karate, were included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, inspiring athletes to reach new heights.

However, even while the aggregate number of injuries was similar to that in earlier contests, some of the newer sports were disproportionately substantial contributors.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) assesses injuries and illnesses during each Olympics to protect competitors’ health, and they have revealed their most recent assessment for the Tokyo Olympics, which take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021.

This prestigious international competition had 11,315 competitors from 206 National Olympic Committees, and its medical staffs reported a total of 1035 injuries and 438 illnesses during the course of the 17 days of action.

Per 100 athletes, there are approximately nine injuries and four illnesses.

Although 18 athletes (less than 0.2%) were affected by COVID-19, there were fewer illnesses overall than in prior years.

IOC sports scientist Torbjrn Soligard and colleagues write, “This might primarily be attributable to the robust countermeasures put in place to reduce COVID-19, effectively limiting transmission of COVID-19 and all respiratory diseases.”

The overall injury rate of 9% was comparable to that of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Rio Olympics in 2016, and the London Olympics in 2012. (10 percent).

The emerging sports of BMX racing (27%), BMX freestyle (22%), skateboarding (21%), and karate (21%) all had higher injury rates than boxing (27%) at the time (19 percent).

The researchers emphasize that there may be a variety of explanations for why athletes participating in the new sports wound up with greater injuries, including weather conditions, venue, track, or equipment design, awareness of, and adherence to, injury prevention training.

As these characteristics may vary over time, they add that this “emphasizes the significance of continuing, longitudinal monitoring of injuries and illnesses.”

In order to lower the risk in next competitions, those in charge of regulating the sports “must use these data.”

It is not surprising that 78 competitors suffered from heat sickness given the high temperatures of over 30 °C and the relative humidity of above 70%, which can make the heat much tougher to handle physiologically.

Fortunately, the cases were minor, and the team blamed the mildness on the mitigation measures.

Some events were moved, and it was advised that athletes prepare in conditions comparable to those at the games, which, according to research, can help them withstand more harsh ones.

During the events, there were other amenities like water and shade, as well as ice baths afterward.

The researchers praised the effectiveness of the COVID-19 measures used during the Olympics but suggested that subsequent competitions be staged in colder climates.

The athletes’ chances of safely reaching their top performance will be increased, according to Soligard and team, and the amount of resources required to implement exertional heat sickness countermeasures (from both the event organizers and the participants) will be decreased.

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