The 2020 Olympic Games and Health Care

We are halfway through the 2020 Olympic Games being held in Tokyo, Japan. As I write this, the United States is tied with China for the total number of medals won (46). We’ve witnessed new world records (Caeleb Dressel, Tatjana Schoenmaker, Emma Mckeon) and new sports (karate, surfing, climbing and skateboarding).

You may be asking yourself, how does this relate to health care? Well, it takes a lot to keep the Olympic Games running smoothly and the athletes healthy and safe (especially this year). Here are ten Olympic Games health care facts:

  1. The IOC Medical and Scientific Commission and Medical and Scientific Director of the IOC are responsible for the governance of health care at the Olympic Games[1];
  2. The Games Group consists of 15 members that are the eyes and ears of the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission[2];
  3. Dental services are provided on site at the 3 x 3 basketball, boxing, equestrian, handball, hockey, karate, rugby, surfing, water polo and wrestling competition venues;[3]
  4. 7,000 doctors, nurses and medical staff were expected to be on standby during the Olympic Games[4];
  5. 395 doctors applied for 200 certified sports doctor volunteer positions[5];
  6. 83% of U.S. athletes are fully vaccinated against Covid-19[6];
  7. A delegation is not allowed to bring oxygen tanks, hypoxic or hyperoxic tents or chambers, or cryogenic chambers for whole body cryotherapy to any Olympic venue[7];
  8. The U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sports Medicine Division recruits volunteer doctors, orthopedists, chiropractors, nurses, sports therapists, massage therapists and more every two years and it can take up to 15 years to be selected to travel with the U.S. Olympic Team[8];
  9. Since 1932, every Olympic Village, including the Tokyo Olympic Village, has featured a 24-hour healthcare facility that provides free healthcare to anyone involved with the Olympics. It is now called the Olympic Polyclinic[9];  and
  10. Athletes can receive comprehensive medical treatments in the Tokyo Olympic Village, including physical therapy, psychiatry, dentistry and dermatology[10].



[2] Id.