Could Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro be halted by Zika virus?

olympics 2016

There are some dark clouds lurking over the Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016 as fear grows over the spreading of Zika virus that has resulted in shrunken heads of over 4000 new born babies. The athletes and the female spectators with childbearing age have been warned by the medical officials and countries across the globe to rethink their decision to go to Brazil for the mega event.

Cristo Redentor

Australian and Russian officials have both raised concerns for the women who will be competing in the event and a number of airlines have offered a chance for the pregnant women to swap their tickets or provide them the refund in order to prohibit traveling to the infected areas in which Brazil is on top of the list. With the spreading concerns over traveling to Latin America a couple of regional airlines have offered refunds to the pregnant women who were booked for traveling. France has warned the women not to travel to the French Territories overseas in the Caribbean and South America. Chilean airline Sky will refund the expecting mothers with tickets to the infected area while Chilean-Brazilian Latam, the biggest airline of the region will rebook or refund the pregnant women with tickets to the countries with the outbreak hazards.

zikka virus and olympics 2016

These warnings and refund offers will pressurize the situation which is already very tough for the country that struggles to prepare for the event. The medical officials have already stated that the virus has full potential to become explosive pandemic and could infect millions of people across the globe. To add to the concerns, at present there is no vaccine to provide to the victims to control the outbreak while exterminating the virus spreading mosquito species is nearly next to impossible. All these factors are contributing which made the health minister of Brazil, Mr. Marcel Castro to admit that “We are losing the battle in a big way.” However, the organizer are pressing to continue with the games in August 2016 and say that they will have the situation under control before the Games will begin.


Brazil is now going with every possible way to battle this rampant virus. Ahead of the Rio Carnival over 3000 health agents were out on the streets to get rid of the hotbeds for mosquitoes prevailing in the city. Their prime focus are the localities near the carnival and Olympic venues as these areas will be inspected on daily basis during the events as well. However, the main stay of this whole scenario is weather till the time of the Games. The winter in Brazil falls in August which is during the event and mosquitoes do not prevail in cooler, dryer climate. Beside avoiding the mosquito bites there is no prevention methodology as Aedes Aegypti species of mosquitoes is adaptive to any conditions.


The Deputy Chief of World Health Organization, Bruce Aylward has stated that there are very slim chances that the United Nations agency would issue any warnings against traveling to Brazil and Thomas Bach of International Olympic Committee said that they will do anything in their power to keep everyone safe from the disease. However, they need to see it straight as the virus only affects the babies in womb and don’t do much to other people unless it find another way of getting spread.


According to the Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there had been one case reported in which the transmission occurred through possible sexual contact and in another case the virus was found in the semen after a couple of weeks when a man had symptoms with the infection. This gives the biological plausibility of the spread. Schuchat also stated that “the science is very clear to date that Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. So that is really where we are putting the emphasis right now.” All this has started to take effect not only on the spectators but also the participating team and their officials as well. The disease is more infectious for the athletes as vigorous training reduces the immune system. The Olympic Committee of Australia are the first ones to openly express their concerns over this issue. However, it is yet to be found that whether other teams also decide to speak out on this issue or not.

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