The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided not to postpone the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro despite the widespread presence of Zika virus in host nation Brazil.
“Our priority is to protect the health of the athletes,” stated Dr. Richard Budgett, medical director of IOC. “The IOC absolutely is not complacent. We do take this very seriously…. Everything is being done to contain and reduce this problem in the lead-up to the games.”
U.S. Olympics officials hired experts on infectious diseases to advise the committee on the Zika virus. The committee told athletes they will address their fears and stay up-to-date on the situation.
Despite the name, the Summer Olympics will take place during winter in Brazil, so officials hope the cooler weather will kill the Aedes aegypti mosquito known to spread Zika and diminish the threat. Spring formally begins in September.
“Everything that can be done is being done,” continued Budgett. “We can give the reassurance that authorities in Brazil are taking it extremely seriously.”
He added: “Concern and worry is appropriate, but there is no restriction on travel. People need to take measures to avoid being bitten and be sensible. There is no recommendation from health authorities to change travel plans.”
Budgett also said the CDC or World Health Organizations have not pressured the committee to postpone the Olympics.
“Our main job is to calm down everybody,” said Rio organizing committee spokesperson Mario Andrada. “The panic is starting [to be] a little too much. We are looking for true facts to make sure we don’t generate any unnecessary worries.”
While the world concentrates on Zika, an Australian doctor with the Olympic team believes the Rio water poses more of a threat towards the athletes than the Zika virus.
Tests found “disease-causing viruses” in the Guanabara Bay and aquatic venues, including sailing, rowing, canoeing, open-water swimming, and triathlon.
“If someone gets a nasty gastro infection, vomiting and diarrhea, it’s not ideal for competing in an Olympic environment,” explained Dr. David Hughes. “Rio poses a multitude of medical challenges when it comes to keeping our athletes and officials safe. We have had many teams go to Rio, we are aware of the water quality issues. We have protocols in place to minimize the risk, but you can’t make the risk zero.”
Olympic Spanish swimmer Mireia Belmonte might not attend the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero due to the Zika outbreak.
“If my health is in danger, I will think about not going to the Rio games,” she said.
U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo said the Zika virus could keep out of the Summer Olympics as well.
“If I had to make the choice today, I wouldn’t go,” she declared to Sports Illustrated.
Stadiums in Manaus, Salvador, Brasília, Belo Horizonte, and Sáo Paulo will host the Olympic soccer games instead of those in Rio de Janeiro. They hosted games during the 2014 World Cup.
But those areas “have higher rates than Rio of mosquito-borne viruses like Zika, dengue, chikungunya and malaria.” The Brazilian government has advised women to delay pregnancy for up to two years due to the possible connection to microcephaly, a rare birth defect that occurs when the brain does not form properly during pregnancy.
Two sources told Reuters that the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) recommended any athlete or trainer concerned about the Zika outbreak should consider not attending the Olympics.
Brazil promised to fumigate and sterilize Olympic stadiums leading up to the games. The health workers plan to follow the same procedures every day during the Olympics.
Dr. Arthur Caplan of the NYU Langone Medical Center told Breitbart News Daily the Olympic committee should delay the games for at least six months.
“You’ve got this outbreak going on, and you’re going to expose hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, who go down there to attend the Olympics or participate in them,” he stated. “We don’t have a cure, we don’t have a vaccine, there is now a couple of cases that have been reported about transmission of the virus into the blood supply, we don’t have a good test for that… why would we be trying to run an Olympics in a country that is straining, anyway?”