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2016 Rio Olympics: Signatories want Games moved or postponed due to Zika Virus

Reporter: Greg Laffradi 丨 CCTV.com

05-30-2016 15:56 BJT

Full coverage: 2016 Rio Olympics

The 2016 Rio Olympics are scheduled to begin August 5th, but not if more than 100 leading scientists could have their way. The signatories of a letter penned to the World Health Organization asked for the first Games ever held in South America to be postponed or even moved, due to concern over the Zika Virus that has spread across the continent and host nation.

The letter was sent to Margaret Chan, the WHO's Director-General, but the UN organization rejected the call, saying Brazil is one of almost 60 countries and territories where Zika has been detected, and people continued to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons. But while efforts to wipe out the disease-spreading mosquitoes has increased, so to has the number of infections.

"I think the authorities are underestimating the risk that the Olympics will lead to a major spread of the Zika Virus outside of the Americas. I think they are correctly estimating the risk of sportspeople and the spectators themselves getting Zika, and the possible complications from that," said Soren Holm Manchester university professor.
Zika infection in pregnant women has been shown to be a cause of the birth defect microcephaly and other serious brain abnormalities in babies. More than 1,400 cases have been confirmed since last fall.

"WHO's response to the concern about the timing of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is that, based on a very careful risk assessment, and all the information we have gathered so far about this disease, these Games should go ahead as planned, and we should continue to work to make sure they are as safe as possible," said Dr. Bruce Aylward WHO executive director.

With all of the political and economic turmoil engulfing Brazil ahead of the Games, perhaps the biggest cause for concern has been pushed to the sidelines. The Summer Olympics bring the most people from multiple nations together, and many of the world's leading health experts believe it is the perfect recipe for a global outbreak of the Zika Virus.

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