The clock is ticking to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics, which technically is the summer games being held in the winter as it is winter in Brazil. Of course, that is the least of the problems that is plaguing this athletic endeavor. There is the suggestion that Russian athletes should be barred from the event because of doping. There are criminal investigations going on with bid rigging and doping being probed. There is the unstable Brazilian government situation. The cyclists are concerned about the velodrome being completed. There is pollution in the water where the sailing events are scheduled. However, all of this may be nothing compared to the battle taking place between the World Health Organization and medical researchers with the Zika virus taking center stage.
You have to wonder if the International Olympic Committee, which enjoys permanent observer status at the UN, and the World Health Organization which is part of the United Nations put some pressure on the World Health Organization, and is downplaying the threat that international athletes and others who plan to be at the Rio mega event will help spread the Zika virus, which is carried by mosquitoes. Late last week, more than 150 scientists released a letter strongly urging the IOC to either cancel or move the Rio Games because there could be an outbreak somewhere when athletes return home. The IOC publicly has claimed it had no idea that it was going to get World Health Organization’s support, but the IOC has been consistent in statements that the Zika virus will cause no threat to the Games. The USOC will study American athletes if any of them get the virus. The Zika virus claimed one baseball series scheduled in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Baseball players did not want to be exposed to the illness. Perhaps the USOC is seeking a gold medal in medical research.
By Evan Weiner for the Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.