On 10th September 1959 Mr. Giulio Onesti communicated to Prof. Luigi Gedda, Director of the G. Mendel Institute and President of the Italian Sports Centre, his appointment as President of the Medical Scientific Committee of the Games of the XVII Olympiad, at the same time outlining the tasks of this Committee as follows:

  • arrange for the hygiene and medical assistance to athletes, officials, and public;
  • establish a complete scientific study of the athletes taking part in the Games, by the compilation and drawing up of a basic bio-psychical card;
  • promote a symposium of sports medicine from among the doctors of the various teams taking part in the Games.

The following were called upon to become members of the Committee: Prof. V. Puntoni - Prof. P. Valdoni - Prof. V. Virno - Prof. R. Ricciardi Pollini - Prof. G. di Macco - Prof. G. Zappalà - Secretary: Prof. G. Iannaccone.
The Medical and Scientific Committee held a number of meetings to examine the various problems, at the same time arranging for the division of these into a number of main sections. The Committee, in addition, decided to entrust Dr. R. Ricciardi Pollini, a member of the Committee, with the organization of the medical services together with the co-operation of the Superintendent of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation for matters concerning the doctors of that Federation.
It was further decided to appoint a group of consultants almost all holding Professorships in the Faculty of Medicine of Rome University, these being Professors L. Condorelli – C. Cassano – G. B. Bletti – G. Ferreri – F. Rocchi – M. Girolami – T. Lucherini – E. Mingazzini – C. Gerin – C. Marino Zuco – M.
Monacelli – G. La Cava – C. F. Cerruti – V. Puddu.
As the work in connection with the scientific and medical investigation grew in volume, its co-ordination was later entrusted to Marco Milani-Comparetti of the Mendel Institute. In addition to the office assigned to the Medical and Scientific Committee at the General Secretariat of the Games, offices were up in two different centres: at the Gregorio Mendel Institute, for scientific services; and at the Institute of Sports Medicine, for the Management of medical services.
Particular attention was paid to the necessity of obtaining the collaboration not only of Italian organizations such as the Red Cross, the Hygiene Office, etc., but of National Olympic Committees, their respective Medical services as well as that of individual doctors accompanying teams.
The work carried out by the National Scientific Committee was based on two directives—scientific research and medical assistance.
From the outset it was decided to carry out an investigation to include all athletes participating in the Olympic Games, for the purpose of establishing characteristic data from which to deduce the factors favourable to the development of athletics with reference to results obtained. For this purpose a card of basic enquiry was prepared, divided into parts which may be summarized thus: personal, genealogical, general amnestic, clinical, anthropometric, biochemical, amnestic sports, psycho-physiological.
The card, translated in four languages, was sent to the various National Olympic Committees together with a sheet of instructions.
A basic feature of the investigation was in fact, as explicitly stated on the cards themselves and in the accompanying circulars, that this should be entrusted to the sports medicine doctors of the individual countries, who were to be responsible for the compiling of the cards, so that the material was kept strictly private.

Scientific Research

The dispatch was made to each National Committee of a number of cards proportional to the respective participations both for men (yellow cards) and for women (blue cards), and with the request that these be returned compiled not later than May 1960. Unfortunately, in most cases this was not possible either because, in the majority of cases, the choice of athletes was postponed until the last moment, or on account of the difficulty in obtaining uniform data and laboratory tests in respect of persons still resident in far-off localities, or lastly, in certain cases, on account of incomprehensibility in the wording of the enquiry.
In view of this, Prof. Gedda wrote to the individual National Committees on 30th June 1960 announcing the institution within the framework of the Olympic Village itself, of a special team of investigators, furnished with the necessary equipment who were to be available for the completion, during the residence of the athletes at Rome, of those data which it had not been possible to gather earlier. The majority of the Committees promised their collaboration. Only in the case of a small number of nations did it prove impossible to obtain any information whatsoever.
Mention should be made of the nations replying most promptly and accurately to the Medical and Scientific Committee's appeal. These included:— Australia - Japan - Hong Kong - Irak - Iran - Italy - Jugoslavia - Kenya - Mexico - Monaco - Rumania - Spain - Thailand - Uganda - Uruguay - Venezuela.
The research team was set up in the Medical Services Building in the Olympic Village, and was composed of a manager, four doctors, and two technicians; in addition to this were added a number of groups of specialized investigators intended to undertake special enquiries within the framework of basic research.
Doctors Rossi and Marchi of the Institute of Physiology of Milan University proceeded to basic ergometric research. Four investigators of London University carried out anthropometric determinations. Prof. Correnti of Palermo University, in collaboration with Dr. Greco, carried out further anthropometric determinations. Professors Venerando and Masini from the Rome University, together with Doctors Rulli, Liberati, and Guerra carried out cardiologic research and control by means of an X-ray unit provided by the Ministry of Health and a mobile electrocardiographic unit provided by the firm of Battaglia and Rangoni of Bologna. Both apparatuses were used in the Olympic Village.
Lastly, in the course of surgery examinations at the Infirmary of the Olympic Village, appropriate individual clinical files were compiled from which it was possible to deduce a number of additional data.
In this way a total of some 2,000 basic cards completed in varying degrees were obtained, whilst in the case of almost all the athletes fundamental data were obtained, such as place and date of birth, height, weight, profession, and athletic achievement.
The mass of material thus gathered was later elaborated for the mechanographical enquiry carried out in collaboration with I.B.M.
Arrangements were made for the printing of an individual summarized card and of a " Transfert " card. Today a wealth of valuable material is available, of some 700,000 data distributed over 30,000 mechanographic cards, from the statistical analysis of which it may be possible to deduce a variety of conclusions of scientific importance.
A first example of enquiries carried out is that refering to hereditary factors, this having already formed the theme of a communication presented by Gedda and Marco Milani-Comparetti to the II International Conference on Human Genetics.
The results of electrocardiographic examination made on the competitors in the Marathon and walkers were communicated by Venerando and his colleagues to the XXII Congress of the Italian Society of Cardiology (1961).
According to the assignment, the Medical and Scientific Committee also arranged for the organization of a Symposium of Sports Medicine intended for the sports medical doctors present at Rome on the occasion of the Games of the XVII Olympiad. The Symposium was prepared and preceded by a series of scientific meetings taking place in the course of the year at the Mendel Institute, the centre of the Committee's scientific services:—  2nd April 1960: meeting on the theme " Training at Intervals "; 2nd June 1960: meeting on the theme " Traumatology from sport "; 18th June 1960: meeting on the theme " Diet and Sport "; 9th July 1960: " National meeting on the evaluation of the athlete "; August 1960: Symposium on the theme " Women and Sport ".
In the period immediately following the conclusion of the Olympic Games a number of medical and scientific meetings were held at Rome, these being co-ordinated with the official Symposium on Sports Medicine. Among these manifestations, particular mention should be made of the meeting on the theme: " Health and Fitness in the Modern World ", promoted by Prof. Leonard Larson and held at the Institute of Normal Human Anatomy of Rome University.
The final scientific meeting was the " Medicinae Sportivae Symposium " convened by the Medical and Scientific Committee of the Games and held on 8th and 9th September in the International Conference Room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 180 observers took part in the Symposium.
At the end of the Symposium, the official closing banquet took place in Palazzo Barberini, at which the Minister of Health was among those present.
On this occasion a special diploma of merit was distributed to the foreign doctors who had collaborated with the Committee. The distribution of this same diploma to Italian doctors took place in the course of a special reception held, at Palazzo Barberini once again on 12th October 1960.

Medical Assistance

Medical assistance was entrusted to Prof. R. Ricciardi-Pollini who, in his capacity of Director of the Health Services of the Olympic Games, thus assumed the practical organization and the management of the various services connected with the medical assistance extended to athletes and also to their accompanying personnel and to the public present at all sports meetings.
For this organization, the Medical Management was able to take advantage, among other things, of the valuable contribution of the Institute of Human Genetics, of the Institute of General Clinical Surgery, of the Institute of General Pathology, and of the equipment provided by the National Institute for Accidents at Work, with its ultra-modern Traumatological Centre; in addition it also made use of the collaboration of the Italian Federation of Sports Medical Doctors and of the services of 169 doctors who were members of same, as well as of the Medical Corps of the Armed Forces and of the Italian Red Cross.
The entire medical organization was divided into three basic groups: (1) assistance to athletes; (2) assistance to personnel forming part of the individual national teams; (3) assistance to public.
Thus it may be affirmed that athletes and accompanying personnel had at their disposal a complete medical, general, and specialized assistance. And even the public present in vast numbers in the stadia during the holding of competitions, were promptly and adequately assisted wherever necessary, thanks to the fixed or mobile first-aid posts.
For the performance of such services of assistance five groups were set up these being divided into territorial sectors, as follows: (1) first-aid to athletes and accompanying personnel; (2) first-aid to public; (3) motorization; (4) special services (haematics, oxygenotheraphy, etc.); (5) nursing services.
Each group was, in its turn, directed by a Head of Group residing within the Management of Medical Services headquarters.
The territorial sectors included a certain number of posts located in the zone of their competence and directed by a head of sector for first-aid to athletes, by a head of sector for first-aid to public, and by a head of sector for the voluntary nurses of the Italian Red Cross.

First Aid

The head of the territorial sector for first-aid to the public, in his capacity of medical officer of the Armed Forces, had under his jurisdiction the motor vehicles at the disposal of the sector itself and was in direct communication with the Olympic Military Group for all questions of motorization.
This sector for first-aid to the public, which was set up with personnel of the Army Medical Service and staff of the Italian Red Cross, installed 37 first-aid posts, 18 of which were prepared under canvas by the I.R.C. and lastly, a further 12 first-aid posts located in zones where other manifestations in connection with the Olympic Games were due to take place.
The medical personnel employed in all sectors at Rome and Naples, both civil and military, is shown in Table No. 1.
The Medical Management, in connection with the carrying out of its duties, disposed of specialized doctors provided, as mentioned above, by the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (I.N.A.I.L.), by the Medical Sports Federation (F.I.M.S.), by the Italian Red Cross and by the Armed Forces, who fulfilled their functions according to the following procedure: the doctors rendering first aid were provided with pre-prepared forms in four copies which were filled in with all data relative to the patient, including nationality and, obviously, all data in connection with the case, the nature and exact location of lesions, the prognosis and therapeutical treatment prescribed, including possible removal to hospital. Whilst one copy of the reports remained at the first aid post, another copy was sent with the patient in the case of transfer to hospital. The remaining two copies of the reports were sent to the Management of the Medical Services who, in accordance with current regulations, arranged for one to be sent to the Public Security Police Authorities.
For cases in which hospitalisation proved necessary, the Service acted as follows: cases of orthopaedy and traumatology were transported to the Traumatological Centre of the I.N.A.I.L. of Rome or to the C.T.O. of Naples (yachting events); in cases requiring medical or specialized treatment patients were transported to the " Lazzaro Spallanzani " Clinic.
In cases when it was not necessary to remove athletes to hospital but when it was considered that they should consult a doctor, these were assisted to the Poliambulatorio at the Olympic Village.
In the case of first aid to the public, those in need of treatment were directed to civil hospitals.
The National Institute for Accidents at Work also provided the services of a group of Physiotherapists, whilst the Italian Federation of Sports Medicinal Doctors (F.I.M.S.), the Italian Red Cross, and the Armed Forces arranged to meet the requirements for male nurses.
In addition, the Italian Red Cross provided a group of voluntary nurses.

Specialist services

For the functioning of the first aid posts to athletes and accompanying personnel (30 within buildings and 25 under canvas) and of the Dispensary located in the Olympic Village, the whole of the equipment was furnished by the I.N.A.I.L.
The Dispensary was equipped with the following specialized services: 3 dental consulting-rooms; 1 otological consulting-room, 1 gynaecological consulting- room; 1 opthalmic consulting-room, 1 surgical consulting-room; 1 orthopaedic and traumatological consulting-room and 1 radiological consultingroom.
In addition, a physiotherapy department equipped with 37 lamps, 15 ultra-violet lamps, 12 apparatus for radiotherapy, 6 for marconigrams, 1 for ultrasound, and 6 for analgesic therapy with low frequency currents.
For the Dispensary and for first-aid posts the most complete normal and special equipment, in accordance with modern requirements, was set up, so that during the period of training preceding the Games, that is when the complex network of assistance had not yet entered into its normal functioning, venues were supplied with 200 first-aid kits. (Table No. 2).

The Health Hygiene problem

The Medical Management did not fail to recognize the great importance also of the health hygiene problem which proved to be delicate and extremely complex in view of the large numbers of athletes, accompanying personnel, journalists, etc. who for organizational reasons or reasons of work, came together and lived side by side at Rome. For this assistance the Medical Management made use of the highly competent services of the Hygiene Office of the Rome Municipality.
This activity in connection with hygiene proved particularly necessary and important insofar as the Olympic Games drew together in common living quarters persons coming from all parts of the world, in some of which serious contagious diseases are still present in an endemic state, e.g. smallpox, cholera, leprosy, etc. In fact, many anti-smallpox vaccinations were carried out and in 554 cases checks were made on persons suspected of having contagious diseases.
In order to facilitate the collecting of news bearing either on the prevention of infectious diseases or on the health hygiene assistance, the Hygiene Office of the Rome Municipality set up, both at the Olympic Village and at the headquarters of the officially accredited journalists, two centres of information and prompt intervention manned by doctors and by visiting health officers. A third centre was set up at the Dispensary of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta at the E.U.R. Thus speedy sources of information were available for the purpose of assuring an adequate organization of the various activities of hygiene assistance.
An integral part of the health hygiene assistance programme was constituted by the measures taken to intensify and extend the campaign against flies, mosquitoes, and other harmful and troublesome insects. Thanks to the new modern pulverization and spray equipment for insecticides furnished by the Municipal Administration, timely measures were taken to intensify the disinfestation of danger spots from the increase and diffusion of flies and mosquitoes.
Equal attention was paid to those sectors of urban activity where the hygiene measures in force could be compromised by the sudden concourse of Italian and foreign visitors. We should refer more specifically to those sectors of activity normally subject to some form of hygiene surveillance and control, such as the sectors of foodstuffs, beverages, and of temporary lodging whether in hotels, boarding-houses, or in camping sites. These last in particular, and especially those camping grounds created on the occasion of the Olympic Games, were equipped with basic services; but, in order to ensure the necessary check-up on these, a health officer particularly expert on this matter was appointed and he, in turn, made use of the collaboration of the disinfection and disinfestation service and of the help of a group of auxiliary health workers.
The Municipal Electricity and Water Company also took an interest in the problem and ensured a supply of water equivalent to 500 litres daily per capita.

Medical and Surgical Intervention

The medical organization which called for the large-scale mobilization of materials and a considerable number of personnel and which, at first glance, might seem to be exaggeratedly elaborate, in practice responded fully to the necessities of the Games. In fact, the work carried out by the First Aid Posts and by the consulting rooms may be translated into the following figures: surgical and medical treatment of 2,236 cases and physiotherapeutic treatment of 1,620 cases.
These various treatments were in respect not only of athletes but also of accompanying personnel, accredited journalists, and public. The public accounted for 448 cases of first aid rendered and 29 cases of treatment in civil hospitals.
As regards cases of medical and surgical treatment carried out on athletes during the period of training and competition, that is to say from 12th August to 11th September only, details of the principal cases of accidents and illnesses are given in Table No. 3.
To the above figures should also be added the cases of athletes transported to the Traumatological Centre of the I.N.A.I.L.
A total of 29 athletes were transported to this Centre for a sum total of 231 days spent in hospital, whilst a further 50 athletes were examined and for whom 147 treatments were prescribed in the form of either medicaments, plaster treatments, or X-rays. In addition, 22 were transported to the " Salvator Mundi " Nursing Home whilst a further 42 were taken to the " Spallanzani " Clinic.
The Management of the Medical Service of the Yachting Regattas at Naples was entrusted to T. C. Doctor Mario Schirru, official Doctor of the U.S.V.I.
The complete medical and surgical assistance to all participants, accompanying personnel and crews of the yachts at Naples was assured by the collaboration of the Navy Infirmary, by the I.N.A.I.L. Traumatological Centre, and by the Mediterranean Clinic.
The medical service at sea was ensured by 3 Medical Officers of the Italian Navy on board minesweepers and by civilian doctors on board ships on public service. The service on land was ensured by 3 sports medicinal doctors allocated to the Small Ports and by 4 Red Cross nurses.
The Medical Service, in outline and in practice, responded fully to the difficult problems presented by the large numbers of persons assisted and by the variety of their customs and habits. This was the outcome, above all, of the sense of duty an of selfdenial displayed by all medical workers who in varying measures played their part in the programme; to the precious and invaluable work of the voluntary nurses of the Italian Red Cross, of the Physiotherapists of the I.N.A.I.L., of the male nurses of the Italian Sports Medicinal Federation as well as of all the personnel of the Armed Forces, among whom especial mention should be made of those responsible for motorization and liaison services.