Brazilian officials have been forced to deny there is any risk of this summer’s Olympic and Paralympics Games in Rio de Janeiro being cancelled as worldwide fears of Zika virus continue to grow with six months to go until the event is due to open.
Rather than looking forward to what is to come, today’s landmark has been dominated by another raft of concerns following confirmation by Brazilian scientists that active Zika virus has been detected in saliva and urine.
It is still not thought this means the virus can be readily transmitted through these bodily fluids but has still added to concerns of countries preparing to travel there for the Olympics and Paralympics.
Brazil is at the centre of an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus, which the World Health Organization has called “an extraordinary event and public health threat”.
A statement issued by Sports Minister George Hilton “lamented material and opinions in the press” speculating that the Games may be called off.
“The Brazilian Government is fully committed to ensure that the 2016 Rio Games take place in an atmosphere of security and tranquility,” he pledged.
Rio 2016 organizers have also to continue dealing with other concerns, including water pollution on Guanabara Bay, as well as the impact of budget cuts following Brazil’s worst recession in more than 20 years.
New Zealand has become the latest country to issue specific concerns to athletes hoping to attend the Olympics, following the lead set by others, including Britain and Australia.
Workshops are being organised by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) for athletes on the long-list for selection over the next two months.
“The Government is saying expectant mothers should not travel to Rio and we fully support that stance,” Ashley Abbott, the public affairs and communications director for the NZOC, said.
“Expectant mothers aside, we don’t want any of our athletes getting sick.
“The symptoms may be mild, but that can have a big impact on performance, so we need to be well-prepared.
“We’ll be talking to [the athletes] directly about the risks and what precautions they need to take when they are competing over there.”
Away from Brazil, a public health emergency has also been declared after 22 confirmed cases in Puerto Rico, where the Latin American Table Tennis Championships are currently taking place.
- By Nick Butler
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz