New study aims to examine the effect of Covid-19 on athletes – and you can take part

New study aims to examine the effect of Covid-19 on athletes - Tifosi Sports

New study aims to examine the effect of Covid-19 on athletes – and you can take part

A new study, headed by the Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Institute at the University of Pretoria, aims to study the effects of Covid-19 on athletes that are returning to training and competition.

The study, which is done in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee Research Centre of South Africa, the South African Medical Research Council, Stellenbosch and Wits Universities, as well as sports organisations like World Rugby and Fifa looks to track the symptoms and recovery of athletes after experiencing an acute respiratory infection, including the coronavirus.

As such, the institute is inviting athletes who compete in different sporting codes at all levels to participate in the research. With the goal of establishing guidelines that health professionals worldwide can use to advise both recreational and competitive athletes returning to sport after having had Covid-19 or other respiratory infections, participants will be asked to complete an online questionnaire pertaining to their history of symptoms suggestive of recent respiratory infections, also including Covid-19.

Speaking about the study, Professor Martin Schwellnus, the director of Tuks’ Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Institute, says that the study takes into account recent evidence suggesting that the coronavirus can affect multiple organs. The study was launched in lieu of evidence more pertinent to whether these potential negative effects are exacerbated in athletes returning to full training and competition.

“The current return-to-play guidelines for athletes are an adaptation of a clinical tool known as the ‘neck check’, where the decision to exercise or not is based on symptoms and signs – being either localised (above the neck) or systemic (below the neck). But limited research data supports its use, and the use of this tool to guide return-to-play following Covid-19 has been questioned.”

“The decision as to when it is safe for an athlete, with recent or current symptoms of an acute respiratory infection, to return to exercise remains one of the most challenging clinical decisions for a sport and exercise medicine physician or health professional involved in the management of athletes,” said Schwellnus.

For more information about the study or to get involved, the institute invites athletes between the ages of 18 and 60 who have recently experienced symptoms of a respiratory infection (which includes any flu-like illnesses, including Covid-19) in the past six months to send an email to

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