‘Spreading explosively’: IOC to advise national Olympic bodies on Zika virus ahead of Rio Games
The IOC will advise all national Olympic bodies on how to deal with the Zika virus ahead of the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
IOC president Thomas Bach said on Thursday the committee is in “close contact” with Brazilian authorities and the World Health Organisation about the mosquito-borne virus.
The World Health Organisation said on Thursday the virus – which has been linked to birth defects and neurological problems – is “spreading explosively”. The WHO will hold an emergency meeting of independent experts on Monday to decide if the outbreak should be declared an international health emergency.
Bach said the IOC would send advice this week to all national Olympic committees.
He said the national bodies can then “inform all their athletes [about the safety guidelines] to show that we will do everything to ensure the heath of the athletes and all the visitors.”
Bach spoke during a visit to Greece where he promoted a US$2 million international assistance programme for refugee athletes.
Bach said the fact that the Olympics will take place in August, during Brazil’s winter, could mitigate the impact of the Zika outbreak.
Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes says he doesn’t believe the spreading Zika virus “is a problem for the Olympics”, which begin on August 5.
Speaking on Thursday, Paes said the mosquito-borne Zika virus was unlikely to affect the Rio Olympics. The Games take place in the drier, cooler South American winter season when the mayor says controlling the mosquito population “will be much easier”.
As he has with the fear of crime in Rio de Janeiro during the Games, or the severe water pollution in the sailing venue Guanabara Bay, Paes called the Zika virus “our problem, a problem of Brazil” and attempted to distance it from the Olympics and subsequent Paralympics.