August 7, 2018
Tokyo- The Japanese government is boosting medical and other assistance to female athletes with health problems, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Existing support measures for athletes suffering from amenorrhea, osteoporosis and other problems resulting from strenuous training have proved effective to some extent, government officials say.
A key issue is how to expand the assistance to cover a wider range of athletes than the current measures, limited largely to top players, according to the officials.
The government's gender equality white paper for 2018, released in June, highlighted the health problems that female athletes confront.
The report said 16.7 pct of the surveyed female collegiate athletes who take part in gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, figure skating and other sports requiring strict weight control were suffering amenorrhea, while 24.5 pct had experienced stress fractures.
"Young athletes tend to focus intensively on competitions, giving health management a lower priority. I hope they acquire accurate knowledge," professional figure skater Akiko Suzuki says in the white paper. She played in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics.
Since fiscal 2015, the government has commissioned the Japan Sports Council to run a program for top-level athletes on national teams to consult gynecologists on menstrual cycles, weight and other matters.
The program has been welcomed by athletes. "I had good results at the Olympics thanks to it," one user says.
The government has now expanded the program to allow top junior athletes, mainly between 9 and 18, receive advice from doctors, nutritionists and mental trainers.
One key task is how to improve health awareness among athletes below the top level. Stress fractures are often seen among competitors who have not reached international level.
The government holds lectures on nutrition and other topics mainly for sports instructors for athletes under the top level, underscoring the importance of health management, particularly for young athletes.
"Health management is necessary in order to make athletes more competitive," a Sports Agency official says. "There are many assistance measures for top athletes, and we'll strive to reflect positive results from them in work to help other athletes." Jiji Press
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