Olympic Sport Safety: Stronger qualification limits to come?

With over 3o crashes now at the Whistler Sliding Centre, more questions are being asked about the safety of competitors in Olympic sports.

We take you behind the scenes this month with our timely Vancouver Games Blog, an insider perspective on sport medicine and science headlines, talking points, statistical data and emerging trends.

A L.A. Times article sheds some light on what is to perhaps come as a result of growing safety concerns from the Vancouver Games:

“People say the more danger, the better. This is stupid,” said Rene Fasel, who headed the IOC’s coordination commission for Vancouver. “Safety of athletes must be the No. 1 priority. … We have to put limits.”

The death of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili in a training run, hours before the Olympic flame was even lit, not only cast a pall over the games, but sparked a hard-edged debate that followed. At its center is the question of how far to push the envelope.

The International Olympic Committee and sports federations conduct safety reviews after each games. This time, there literally was a post-mortem, too.

The IOC has taken numerous safety steps over the years — lowering the obstacles in the three-day equestrian event, requiring protective headgear in boxing and hockey, setting tougher qualification standards to preclude another “Eddie the Eagle,” the British plasterer-turn-ski jumper who barely got airborne in the 1988 Calgary Games.

However, Fasel said even tougher screening may be needed.

“On one side we want to be global and universal,” he said. “How far do we go? Who do you accept? In team sports, qualification is simple, but in individual sports there must be a limit.

“If some federations do not, we might have to be the ones to put the limit.”

Read the full article here.

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