Medical Reading

Olympics 2010; At Least One In Ten Athletes Were Injured In Vancouver

September 23, 2017

According to research found in the esteemed British Journal of Sports Medicine, at least one in 10 athletes sustained an injury during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. Aside, one in 14 fell ill during the games. These relatively high numbers are more than likely to still be an underestimate, authors of the study suggest. This numerical content was based on reports from each of the head international physicians for each of the national Olympic teams represented.

Holistically, 82 doctors responsible for 2567 athletes took part in the study. A total reported 287 injuries and 185 illnesses or 11% per 1000 game participants were hurt and 7% fell ill.

More injuries were reported in known high risk events such as bobsleigh, ice hockey, short track, alpine freestyle and snowboard cross in which more 15% or 35% of athletes sustained an injury or fell ill respectively.

There were historically lower risk sports such as biathlon, cross country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined demonstrated less than one in 20 athletes hurt or ill during the 15 day competition. Luge, curling, speed skating and free style moguls also showed a low rate of injuries, even though sadly one athlete died during luge practice runs.

So where did most injuries occur? Many actually happened during training runs leading up to the actual competitions. Head, spine, and knees injuries sustained during training, or 46% as they were during while 54% were competitive bumps in the road. However, some sports demonstrated a 75% of injury resulting from training alone. These included snowboarding, freestyle cross skiing, short track, figure skating, skeleton and biathlon.

How did most performers get hurt though? Bruising, sprains to ligament and muscles were most commonplace. Note, that one serious tendon rupture occurred in a cross country skiing competitor. As mentioned, one athlete died in luge. Exact circumstances of this fatality are still being investigated.

Women got hurt more than men. Every fifth female athlete taking part in bobsleigh, ice hockey, snowboard cross and in freestyle cross and aerials sustained an injury.

Just under 28% of registered male athletes, or one in three, were injured during short track events, while 17% were injured during bobsleigh, and a little under 16% playing the very popular winter sport of ice hockey. One in every 10 athletes taking part in the skeleton, figure and speed skating, curling, snowboard cross and biathlon succumbed to at least one illness, almost two thirds of which (62%) were respiratory infections.

It is key to note, say the authors, that many injuries go unreported for competitive reasons, and these number may actually be quite higher. In general, safety first! Improved training facilities, arenas and equipment are always being developed to avoid serious injury.

"Sports injuries and illnesses during the Winter Olympic Games 2010"
Lars Engebretsen, Juan Manuel Alonso, Mark Aubry, Jiri Dvorak, Astrid Junge, Willem Meeuwisse, Margo Mountjoy, Per Renström, Mike Wilkinson
Br J Sports Med 2010;44:772-780 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2010.076992

: Sy Kraft, B.A. - Journalism - California State University, Northridge (CSUN)