Sport is bearer of splendid values and to practice it at professional level demands concentration, endurance, passion, training and the risk taking primarily linked to the intensity of training and physical effort. The coming back of the Olympic Games and of the live sport, made the foremost experts and sport medicine practitioners from all over the world agreed to meet in Monaco for the 6th International Olympic Committee World Conference on the Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport. A paramount convention held at the Grimaldi Forum from the 25th until the 27thNovember 2021. Since its foundation, promoted in 2005 by the Oslo Trauma Research in the form of World Congress on Sport Injury Prevention, the event, whose current edition was postponed by a year for the pandemic, is organized every three year and it has been hosted in the Principality three times already.
“We have the duty to provide effective medical advice and care for professional sportspeople so that sports organisations, health professionals, scientific researchers, coaches and athletes have to consider appropriate safety measures”, stressed Prof. Dr Uğur Erdener, Chair at IOC Medical and Scientific Commission.
“The preservation of athletes’ health must always be considered as a priority and a responsibility for the stakeholders”, pointed out H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, and He continued– “the expectations are high, delivering concrete results by a collaborative and collective process which allows a transfer of knowledge in order to minimize the risk factors with the practice of sport”.
The three-day symposium held in Monaco, analysed, with a special focus to risk prevention and necessary health screening, the most important health, wellness and rehabilitation aspects linked to major elite sports, such as court disciplines, group or individual ones as well as contact or hit athletic activities.
A great long-awaited opportunity to exchange fruitful ideas as explained exclusively to HelloMonaco by Richard Gordon MacBride Budgett (R.G.M.B.) Medical and Scientific Director of the International Olympic Committee and Olympic rowing gold medal.
HelloMonaco: Dr. Richard Gordon MacBride Budgett, what has changed in six-year time in high-level sport illnesses and injuries prevention?
R.G.M.B: After the first two editions held in Norway, the IOC decided to make it more widely known and to move the chaired conference to Monaco. Planning the event every three years is strategic and we can collect a relevant amount of new research studies which is the real focus. In recent times, it has been recognized that the potential of mental health diseases is now more impactful than ever with special regard to the athletes’ world. Sometimes, there is this sort of undercurrent feeling that professional sportspeople are talented superhumans who do not need specific treatments, but they are just as the other humans, being prone to any relevant stress following hard training and aspirations put on hold. So, I think that one of the biggest changes of the last five-six years grounds on this matter. Physical injuries still have huge impact, anyway.
HelloMonaco: Have the injury and early deaths risks in practicing professional sports increased or decreased in recent years?
R.G.M.B: If we are looking at the Olympic Games which is our prior responsibility, I am glad to say that over the last three editions of summer and winter games the incident of those kind of risks has generally reduced in most disciplines. Of course, in some sports the percentage is higher than in others. Especially when you need to fall from high altitudes it is more risking. Many of winter practicing are therefore the case like the aerial skying. Our mission is mainly to help the international federations to collect all injury and illness data so that we can conceive a targeted response according to what the concrete hurdles are and the risk factors impact. This is a cycle-like continuous approach which is prior in the prevention phase and it needs a precious cooperation from all the actors involved.
HelloMonaco: How important prevention is?
R.G.M.B: Prevent sportspeople from getting seriously hurt must start from an early stage. This determines the beneficial effect of reducing accidents and it allows a greater participation. In particular, one thing we have to prevent is sudden cardiac arrests which are really rare but devastating. The second most important cause in sport death is heat stroke and we are very conscious of that. We have elaborated a wide series of algorithms on how to manage potential heat strokes on site. The best result comes from an increasingly balanced combination of prevention, management and media treatment. Besides that, coaches, families, teachers and all extended entourage should have a simple assessment to a good understanding of this matter.
HelloMonaco: Do you appreciate the personal involvement of the Sovereign Prince and Monaco Government and the National Olympic Committee in boosting the most meaningful values of Sport?
R.G.M.B.: It is of huge importance. In life as in sport, leadership really counts; so, I think there is a real feeling that sport and physical activities are crucial here. We are really pleased to gather again in the Grimaldi Forum as the venue of this international convention. Monaco is so perfect, and people get so appreciative of the set up and easy connections to the Principality. All that stimulates more research and better outcomes as witnessed by the remarkable projects that have been discussed live by many young researchers during the event in the Poster Area, the right mood for valuable interaction.
HelloMonaco: What are the priorities in view of 2022 Winter Olympics and other major professional sport challenges?
R.G.M.B: The IOC and all the international groups of best experts are regularly setting primary issues within the Agenda 2020+5 for the coming years. Focusing on mental health and safeguarding will be crucial in the near future. Concussion prevention will be on the spotlight as well on the occasion of next year ‘s meetings.