Staying well is important for all athletes when travelling domestically and internationally, as illness can have a significant impact on performance (Gordon et al. 2017; Raysmith & Drew 2016). Infections, particularly of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts (Edouard et al. 2014, 2019; Dvorak et al. 2011; Sell et al. 2013; Soligard et al. 2017), are a common cause of illness in this setting and have the potential to spread very quickly in a team environment (Schwellnus et al. 2020). Managing sleep, food intake and emotional wellbeing are also important.
A number of strategies can be used to help athletes stay healthy while travelling (Schwellnus et al. 2020). These include measures to prevent infections such as strict personal hygiene, vaccinations, food safety education, isolation and quarantine (Derman et al. 2013; Schwellnus et al. 2020). Appropriate predeparture planning is critical for both prevention of illnesses and optimal management. A sound knowledge of the destination and the team/athlete group is critical.
This chapter was written during the COVID-19 global pandemic, which has considerably changed the landscape for all sports, especially for international travel and competition (Mann et al. 2020). Many international competitions have been cancelled or postponed, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Not only is international travel restricted in many countries, the risk of infection during travel is now significantly higher (Carmody et al. 2020; Dores & Cardim 2020; Wilson et al. 2020). There is emerging evidence that COVID-19 infection may have longer-term physiological sequalae (Dores & Cardim 2020; Wilson et al. 2020) and until more information is known about the longer-term health and performance consequences, athletes should take every measure possible to avoid infection.
ILLNESS ASSOCIATED WITH ATHLETE TRAVEL
Illness presentations are a common reason for medical review when travelling with teams and at major competitions (Derman et al. 2013; Schwellnus et al. 2012a, 2012b; Soligard et al. 2015, 2017; Theron et al. 2013). The respiratory and gastrointestinal systems are most commonly involved, and infections are the most common cause (Dvorak et al. 2011; Edouard et al. 2014, 2019; Sell et al. 2013; Soligard et al. 2017).
The overall rate of illness appears to be about 5–8% at major competitions (Derman et al. 2013; Schwellnus et al. 2012a, 2012b; Soligard et al. 2015, 2017; Theron et al. 2013). Athletes are affected by the same type of illnesses as the general population (Carmody et al. 2020); however, the impact of these illnesses can be more significant due to training time losses or inability to compete at major competitions (Gordon et al. 2017; Raysmith & Drew 2016). ...