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Central Coast Surgeon At Tokyo Olympics As Team USA Physician

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Orthopedic surgeon part of team working with athletes prepping for competition

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are set to officially open Friday. Despite the pandemic, excitement is high that the Games are finally happening. And, perhaps no one is as thrilled as a Central Coast doctor who’s in Tokyo as part of the U.S. Olympic Team’s medical crew.

Dr. Jonathan Fow is part of a team of medical professionals in Japan to support U.S. athletes. He’s an orthopedic surgeon with Dignity Health, based at the Arroyo Grande Specialty Center.

He says he became involved after going to a pro beach volleyball tournament in Orange County more than a decade ago. He played volleyball in college, and when he was at the tournament, he asked if they needed medical help.

He became a regular at the matches, eventually becoming the tour's medical director.

Fow says working with the pro volleyball players was an eye opener. He says he learned about multidisciplinary medicine, which involved a team including doctors, chiropractors, athletic trainers, massage therapists, and even psychologists.

The players wanted him to come to the 2012 London Olympics, which he did. He was then invited to be a part of the medical team at the United States Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Fow’s road to Tokyo included travel to other parts of the world to support U.S. athletes. In Tokyo, he’s part of a medical team that’s been working with athletes all this week, as they prepare for competition.

What’s amazing about the Central Coast surgeon’s participation is that it’s costing him money to do it. The Olympic medical team members are volunteers. Fow says the Olympic Committee pays for airfare and accommodation, and they give him a bunch of swag. He credits Dignity Health with supporting his time off to help Team USA.

Fow says he’s been able to bring some of the things he’s learned back to the Central Coast, to treat injured athletes in the community.

He says the only disappointment is that because of Japan’s COVID-19 protocols banning most visitors, he was unable to bring his wife. But, he says he understands why they are being so cautious.

Fow says even with the COVID-19 impacts, spending three weeks in the middle of the Olympics is going to be an unforgettable experience.