WHO gives go-ahead for Rio Olympics, rejects call to move Olympics over Zika

Published on : Monday, May 30, 2016

Rio OlympicsThe World Health Organization (WHO) has given the green signal for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, despite a warning by 100 leading scientists regarding Zika outbreak.

 
The Rio Olympics are due to take place between 5 and 21 August.

 
In an open letter to the WHO, more than 100 leading scientists had said new findings about Zika made it “unethical” for the Games to go ahead.

 
The letter is signed by 150 international scientists, doctors and medical ethicists from such institutions as Oxford University and Harvard and Yale universities in the United States.
They cite the failure of a mosquito-eradication programme in Brazil, and the country’s “weakened” health system as reasons to postpone or move the Olympics in “the name of public health”.

 

“An unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic,” the letter says.

 

The biggest risk, it adds, is if athletes contract the virus and returned home to poor countries that have not yet suffered a Zika outbreak.

 
The WHO said changing the venue would “not significantly alter” the spread of the virus, which is linked to serious birth defects.

 
In a statement, the WHO, which has declared the Zika virus a global public health emergency, said: “Brazil is one of almost 60 countries and territories which to date report continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes.

 

“People continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons. The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice.”

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