Generally linked to performances and medals, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are being re-positioned in terms of mental health and wellbeing (e.g., Athlete365, n.d.). This re-positioning can not only be related to the impact of COVID-19 (Stambulova et al., 2020) but also to a set of multi-level developments, including the increasing role of sport psychologists before, during and after the Games in general (De Bosscher et al., 2015; Wylleman, 2019) and in the increased support aimed at mental health rather than performance-enhancement only. From a talent development perspective, the use of a holistic athletic career model enabled the identification of normative challenges to athletes’ well-being (e.g., junior-to- senior transition) and the occurrence of mental ill-health and psychological problems among Olympians and Paralympians (e.g., eating disorders). From a sport policy perspective, Olympians and Paralympians are not only increasingly seen as role models to society at large but are in fact also positioned as helping to ensure sustainable development in society, tackle challenges such as unhealthy lifestyles, obesity and competence development and propagate wellbeing and mental health (e.g., Coalter, 2013). Using a sport sociology perspective, the Games are being integrated as part of, rather than being separate from societal developments, leading to an increased link with grassroots sports and introduction to the Games of sports (e.g., introduction of skateboard, breakdance) which are related to young, and thus in principle, healthy people. Using an interdisciplinary approach this presentation will reflect in more detail on these multi-level developments and their interrelationships and, using a ‘Realist Evaluation’ approach (Pawson & Tilley, 1997), will propose a set of sufficient conditions for supporting the wellbeing of Olympians and Paralympians. Finally, recommendations will be formulated on how to facilitate the measurement and societal relevance of impacts and outcomes of wellbeing at Olympic and Paralympic level.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Oct 2021
Event15th International Symposium for Olympic and Paralympic Research: Emerging Technologies and Emerging Sports in the Covid-19 Era - online
Duration: 15 Oct 202116 Oct 2021


Conference15th International Symposium for Olympic and Paralympic Research
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