Biggest challenge at London 2012 Olympics was reassuring politicians, media that there were no health threats

In this Review, researchers led by Dr Brian McCloskey, who coordinated the Health Protection Agency's seven year preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games, report that although no major public health incidents arose during the Games, the biggest challenge was reassuring the organising committee, government, media, and the public that there were no health-protection concerns.

The authors point out that although the overall risk of public health problems, including infectious disease outbreaks, at large-scale international sporting events is small, and response systems need to be ready to detect and respond much quicker than normal. In addition, the need for reassurance about the absence of such threats is much greater than previously thought and could challenge traditional health surveillance systems. They call for enhancements to surveillance and reporting systems to be made a key part of planning for future like the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

According to Dr McCloskey, "Demand for information about any possible risk to the Games and to the reputation of the host country is huge. Politicians and decision makers often seek reassurance that nothing is happening—this negative finding is not easily and reliably obtained from routine surveillance systems because they are not primarily designed to prove that nothing is happening. So these systems need to be reviewed and enhanced to fulfil this role effectively. The good thing is that these enhanced systems are then a positive legacy for the host country."*

More information: www.thelancet.com/series/mass-gatherings-medicine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers see hospitalization records as additional tool

Apr 16, 2014

Comparing hospitalization records with data reported to local boards of health presents a more accurate way to monitor how well communities track disease outbreaks, according to a paper published April 16 in the journal PLOS ON ...

Recommended for you

New analysis questions use of acute hemodialysis treatment

11 hours ago

A common approach to treating kidney failure by removing waste products from the blood did not improve survival chances for people who suddenly developed the condition, in an analysis led by experts at the University of Pittsburgh ...

WHO: West Africa Ebola death toll rises to 1,350 (Update)

12 hours ago

Riot police and soldiers acting on their president's orders used scrap wood and barbed wire to seal off 50,000 people inside their Liberian slum Wednesday, trying to contain the Ebola outbreak that has killed ...

User comments