Expert Says Olympics Should Be Rescheduled Over Zika

He says the lives of many thousands of unborn babies are at risk
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2016 2:58 PM CDT
Expert Says Olympics Should Be Rescheduled Over Zika
Health workers get ready to spray insecticide to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that transmits the Zika virus under the bleachers of the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, which will be used for the Archery competition in the 2016 summer games.   (AP Photo/Leo Correa, File)

"But for the games, would anyone recommend sending an extra half a million visitors into Brazil right now?" University of Ottawa professor Amir Attaran writes in the Harvard Public Health Review. According to the AP, Attaran is calling on the International Olympic Committee to postpone or relocate the Summer Olympics—scheduled to start Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro—to slow the global spread of the Zika virus. "If the IOC and the World Health Organization do not have the generosity of heart to delay the games to prevent children being born and disabled their whole lives, then they're among the cruelest institutions in the world," Attaran says. He advocates quickly splitting the games up amongst cities around the world that have already hosted them and have the infrastructure in place, the Canadian Press reports.

For its part, the IOC says it will do no such thing, pointing out that the World Health Organization hasn't recommended travel bans. "We're confident as we've been advised by the experts that the situation will improve over the next three months," the IOC's medical director tells the AP. Attaran isn't convinced and says holding the games as scheduled could potentially "wreck the health of the world." "It's a bit like saying: 'We're holding the games in Fukushima. Protect yourself. Wear a lead suit. It will all be fine,"' he tells the Canadian Press. Most people infected by Zika have no symptoms or mild ones. But the virus has been proven to cause birth defects in babies born to infected women and can be transmitted sexually. (Read more Zika virus stories.)

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