Zika Virus A Real Threat To This 2016 Summer Olympics
It’s been quite some time that Zika Virus and Rio Olympics are being paired together; bad luck to the re-emergence of the virus in Colombia, the immediate neighbour of Brazil, the host country of 2016 Summer Olympics. With all the pre-event preps being done, the biggest sports event is now at the face of real challenge, as media is brewing stories about the threats of Zika during the biggest event. It seems that the growing pressure from various avenues might end up rescheduling the event, fears the organizers.
A Look Back
Last year, when the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the Zika virus (a mosquito-borne illness) is responsible for the birth defects in thousands of babies, Brazil and a major part of South America was also declared the “endangered” zone in terms of International Health Emergency. In fact, Brazil was one of those countries that had reported the continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes, says WHO.
The Present Scenario
Keeping 16,000 athletes and 600,000 visitors healthy is certainly a challenging task, but the organizers were well prepared for that. International mass gatherings, being always associated with the risks of traumatic injuries and infections, the organizers need to be braced with required the infrastructure to deal with that. So happened with the Rio organizers as well. But, the outbreaks of Zika appeared as a unique foe which indeed demands a tougher safety measure, else the decision to proceed with the 2016 Summer Olympics will be detrimental for much of the sports enthusiasts across the globe.
The Organizers’ Take
Despite the explosive outbreaks of Zika across Americas and the neighbouring regions, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has no plans to call off the games. Speaking of the safety measures, the IOC President Thomas Bach has said that there will be safe conditions for the athletes and the spectators, but at the same time, the risk to the pregnant woman cannot be completely discarded under these circumstances.
It’s unfortunate that the Zika virus hit the country only a few months before the event when the preps were all done. At this stage, it’s not feasible to reschedule the games. The only options left is to strengthen the safety measures in Brazil.
However, the organizers are little upbeat for the fact that the cool and dry weather of Brazil during the Summer Olympics will have much less activity of the Aedes aegypti (Zika Virus). “It is worth knowing that the incidence of the mosquito that transmits the virus is extremely low in August and September, which is winter in Brazil and the period in which the Rio 2016 Games will take place,” says Dr. João Grangeiro, the chief medical officer in charge of Rio Olympics.
World Health Organization (WHO) has recently announced to convene a panel of experts to discuss the Zika issue and its impact on the Olympics. In addition, the emergency meeting scheduled on June 14 is most likely to address the Zika Outbreaks specifically so as to find effective measures to deal with its growing threats. Their aim is to contemplate the latest evidence and consider whether Zika is still an international health emergency.