Tennis star Rafael Nadal told the media the recent Zika outbreak in Brazil does not worry him as he prepares for the Rio Open.
“I’m going out at night. I’m not scared. I’m not worried about this. If it happens, it’s bad luck,” said Nadal.
He added, “I see people conducting their lives normally. … I see people walking, people on the beach, people in restaurants, people having completely normal lives.”
David Ferrer, also in Rio de Janeiro for the tournament, expressed a casual attitude toward the mosquito virus, as well. “I’ll try to take precautions, but I’m not obsessed about it,” he commented.
Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics in August. 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 thus diminish the threat. Spring formally begins in September.
U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo said the Zika virus could keep her out of the Summer Olympics.
“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 de Janeiro of mosquito-borne viruses like Zika, dengue, chikungunya and malaria.”
Olympic Spanish swimmer Mireia Belmonte said she will not attend the games if her “health is in danger.”
“There is still a long way to go until the Games and things can change, but the important thing is to know that we are going to be safe and that our health is not being to be put at risk,” she stated.
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.
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,” announced 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.
However, an Australian doctor with the Olympic team believes the Rio de Janeiro 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, adding:
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.
The Australian Olympic Committee encouraged its female athletes to educate themselves about Zika and “consider the risks of competing in the Rio Olympics due to the outbreak of Zika.”
“Any team members who are pregnant at the time of the Games need to consider the risks very carefully before deciding whether to proceed with travel to Brazil,” they said.
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. Art 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,” he said, then asked, “Why would we be trying to run an Olympics in a country that is straining, anyway?”