Potentially prolonged psychological distress from postponed olympic and paralympic games during COVID-19—career uncertainty in elite athletes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on the world of sports due to periods of home quarantine, bans against public gatherings, travel restrictions, and a large number of postponed or canceled major sporting events. The literature hitherto is sparse, but early indications display signs of psychological impact on elite athletes due to the pandemic. However, beyond acute effects from lockdown and short-term interrupted athletic seasons, the postponed and still uncertain Olympic and Paralympic Games may represent a major career insecurity to many athletes world-wide, and may lead to severe changes to everyday lives and potentially prolonged psychological distress. Given the long-term perspective of these changes, researchers and stakeholders should address mental health and long-term job insecurity in athletes, including a specific focus on those with small financial margins, such as many female athletes, parasports athletes, athletes in smaller sports, and athletes from developing countries. Implications and the need for research are discussed.


External organisations
  • Region Skåne
  • FIFPRO (Global Representative for Professional Football Players)
  • Spelarföreningen (National Representative for Football Players)
  • Swedish Sports Confederation
  • University of Ottawa
  • Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sport and Fitness Sciences


  • COVID-19, Elite athlete, Mental health, Olympic games, Paralympic games, Psychological distress, Sports psychology
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication categoryResearch