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Sport and recreation deaths in Australia

Released August 2020
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deaths, 2001-2017
deaths per year on average
of deaths involved swimming


Sport and physical recreation are popular in the Australian community, and participation in these activities contributes positively to health and well being.

However, these activities involve risks which may result in injury – or even death. In 2016-17 alone, 58,500 people were hospitalised for sports injuries in Australia.

There were 3231 sport and recreation deaths reported to an Australian coroner between 2001 and 2017. In 62 of these deaths, the person was engaged in the activity in a professional capacity. Professional refers to instances in which the person’s activity at the time of the incident was coded as paid work or unpaid work. All other cases in the fact sheet refer to instances where the person’s activity was sport and exercise during leisure time.

Over two thirds (67.0%) of sport and recreation deaths involved water and boating activities. There were 551 deaths in which the person was engaged in wheeled activities such as cycling, skate boarding or car racing. Of these, 241 involved motorcycling.

Data sources

The data was extracted from the NCIS in April 2020. The data set contained every closed case reported to an Australian coroner between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2017 where the death was due to unintentional external cause(s), and where the deceased was engaged in a sport or recreation activity. See explanatory notes for information on data sources and limitations. For further data, request a data report.


Content is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), unless otherwise stated. Attribution must be provided to the National Coronial Information System (NCIS).

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