Measuring the health legacy of the Beijing Olympics

News release

BEIJING, 18 May 2010–Beijing's health has benefited greatly from hosting the 2008 Olympic Games. That's the conclusion in a book launched today by the Beijing Olympic City Development Association (BODA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to assess the Olympics' long-lasting health impact on its hosts and to draw lessons for future mass events.

Titled The Health Legacy of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games: Successes and Recommendations, the 191-page publication was unveiled at a ceremony in the Chinese capital by the Beijing municipal authorities, BODA, the Chinese Ministry of Health, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and WHO.

In 21 chapters, the book highlights the longer-lasting effects of Beijing's initiatives to improve the capacity of medical services; to strengthen disease surveillance, risk management and response; to improve the living environment for Beijing's citizens through air, water and tobacco-control-related initiatives; and to increase health awareness among athletes, visitors and residents.

This is the first time the health legacy–defined as the sustainable, positive health impacts on the host city or country, associated with hosting of the Olympic Games–has been planned and documented in such a comprehensive way, said Professor Arne Ljungqvist, Chairman of IOC's Medical Committee and one of the book's three editors.

"The Beijing experience showed that it is possible to advance a public health agenda by capitalizing on the attention generated by the Games among government agencies and the society at large," said WHO China Representative Dr Michael O'Leary. "The book's findings stress the need to plan well ahead and to establish clear roles and functions for the various agencies involved in partnerships. They also document the need for a combination of legal frameworks, public health interventions and information campaigns."

The publishers hope the book can be an instructive example of how mass events can be organized to promote health in a value-added way. The Beijing Olympics experience is especially relevant for countries where large sports events and mass gatherings can be exploited to improve the health and wellbeing of their citizens.

For more information, please contact Ms Vivian Tan, Communications Officer, WHO China on mobile: +86 139 1120 5167, email: tanv@wpro.who.int. Or Mr Chai Hua, Program Expert, BODA, on mobile: +86 139 1199 0927, email: chaihua@beijing2009.cn

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