The IOC has partnered with the University of Edinburgh to create the Olympian Health Cohort ©Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has partnered with the University of Edinburgh to launch the IOC Olympian Health Cohort in a bid to promote athletes' safety and wellbeing.

The long-term research project is aimed at reducing injuries and illnesses for elite athletes as well as protecting their physical and mental health.

The programme will see a team of researchers, led by three-time British Olympian Debbie Palmer.

They are asking athletes who competed at Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 to participate in a study and provide insights for themselves and future generations.

Participants will take an initial online survey about their musculoskeletal and general health.

The study team will then contact them every two years for 15 to 20 years for follow-up surveys and send them a regular newsletter containing information based on the results.

"There are gaps in our knowledge around athlete health and well-being, particularly around new and emerging health issues in elite sport," said Palmer.

"We need to understand what happens to athletes not just during the Olympic Games, but as they progress throughout their careers."

The study aims to improve knowledge about athlete health throughout their life and after they retire from elite sport.

Current injury and illness surveillance only documents two to three weeks of an athlete's season.

Studies focusing on retired athletes can also be limited by their retrospective nature.

As a result, the study hopes to more accurately identify and mitigate risk factors for short and long-term health and wellbeing.

"The participants in the IOC Olympian Health Cohort will provide invaluable data to benefit themselves and future generations of athletes," read an IOC statement.

"The regular survey points will allow tracking of how and when specific health problems occur, while the continuous nature of the study means that the effectiveness of interventions can be tested and updated as the study progresses."