More than half (55%) of the injuries affected the lower extremity, 20% the upper extremity, 15% the trunk and 10% the head. The most common diagnoses were thigh strain and ankle sprains. About a quarter of injuries were incurred during training, 74% in competition. One third of the injuries were caused by contact with another player, followed by overuse (22%) and non-contact incidences (20%).
Injuries in competitions were reported from all disciplines; time-loss injuries from all disciplines except canoe flatwater, diving, sailing and synchronised swimming. In relation to the number of registered athletes, the risk of incurring an injury was highest in taekwondo, football, hockey, handball, weightlifting and boxing (all 15% of the athletes).
The protection of the Olympic athletes’ health by preventing injuries is an important task for the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Standardised assessment of sports injuries provides not only important epidemiological information, but also direction for injury prevention, and the opportunity for monitoring long-term changes in the frequency and circumstances of injury. Therefore, the IOC decided for the first time to record and analyse all athlete injuries incurred in competition and/or training during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The group carrying out this study was composed of Prof. Lars Engebretsen (IOC), Prof. Jiri Dvorak (FIFA, F-MARC), Dr Astrid Junge (FMARC), Prof. Per Renström (IOC), Dr Margo Mountjoy (IOC, FINA), Dr Juan Manuel Alonso (IAAF), Dr Mark Aubry, (IOC, IIHF), Agnès Gaillard (IOC, administration). The authors highly appreciate the cooperation of all NOC and IF physicians as well as the medical staff of the Beijing Olympic Games who volunteered their time to collect the data for this important project. A more detailed analysis will be published in a sports medical journal, and this publication will be distributed to all NOCs, the participating team physicians and International Sports Federations.