Gold medals or Zika virus: the main concern of Rio Olympics

Author : Polina Davydova

Source : 112 Ukraine

This year's Olympic Games attracted worldwide attention not only as a sporting event. How athletes and spectators are planning to protect themselves from Zika virus during the Games?
23:33, 2 August 2016

112 Agency

The upcoming Olympic Games in some way turned out to be more special than the previous ones. We spoke about their main features in Rio Olympics: 10 facts you need to know article. But even earlier everyone who was going to attend the Games in Rio had another topic of discussion and concern which is Zika virus. Both famous athletes, and ordinary viewers - all are trying to resist it in many ways.

Perhaps, South Korea national team members will be the most protected, because the country took care of their sports equipment and its protection it from the virus at the state level.  Koreans arrived in Brazil wearing special sport clothes of their local brand Bean Pole which was created in collaboration with the team of chemists and doctors.

Complete sets with long sleeves and thick pants are designed with the use of special repelling insects’ chemicals. It is reported that these clothes athletes will wear on both at ceremonies and during their stay in the Olympic Village. As for competitions, as stated in the National Olympic Committee of South Korea, due to the strict regulations, the form in which the athletes participate in sport competition cannot be changed, but the athletes will use protective sprays.

For the majority of athletes from countries that did not create special "anti-viral" costumes, as South Korea, sprays against mosquitoes have become the main weapon. Ukrainian Olympians, who arrived in Rio, said that each athlete and coach was provided with special facilities for mosquito control. Olympics organizers also developed special brochures with recommendations for protection against the virus.

Even the audience who come to Brazil to support their idols and enjoy the sporting spectacle is wary of health problems. The mosquito-borne disease suspected of causing serious birth defects is expected to spread to all countries in the Americas except Canada and Chile, according to the World Health Organization. Doctors advise pregnant women to avoid traveling to Brazil and about a dozen countries in the Americas where Zika has been linked to brain damage in babies. If getting in an organism of a pregnant woman, the virus may cause microcephaly to her fetus, then all the rest of the sick people have to go through an unpleasant period of their lives too. Infection causes fever, conjunctivitis and pain in the joints. However, in an answer to these fears International Olympic Committee sent a memo outlining some of the planned precautions at the games.

Brazil's health minister says visitors face "almost zero" risk of getting Zika during the Olympics as a small but growing number of athletes cancel their trips to Rio."I cannot put at risk my health and health of their family," - said the fifth-ranked Romanian tennis player Simona Halep. Her example was followed by Canadian Milos Raonic (№7 ATR), Czech Tomas Berdych (№8), Austrian Dominic Thiem (№9), American John Isner (№16), Australians Nick Kyrgios (№18) and Bernard Tomic (№19), Spaniard Feliciano Lopez (№21), South African Kevin Anderson (№33), and the first racket of Ukraine Oleksandr Dolgopolov (№37). The situation is similar in golf, which is returned to the Olympic program after a 112-year pause.

“Vaccinations against Brazilian viruses? Doctors recommend to do something, but here in Ukraine we have no such vaccines, as I know. And we have a very small budget for the pharmacology for our athletes. We have calculated the total budget, and within it athletes buy pharmacology needed specifically for them. I hope that half of these drugs in Brazil will not be in handy for us, but we will be ready in case of emergency,” - said coach of tennis team of Ukraine Mykhailo Filima.

Honestly speaking, the Special complex of treatment and vaccines against Zika fever don’t exist yet. And this infection is more dangerous, and Brazil’s outbreak is more extensive, than scientists reckoned a short time ago. Rio de Janeiro’s suspected Zika cases are the highest of any state in in Brazil (26,000), and its Zika incidence rate is the fourth worst (157 per 100,000). Although Zika virus was discovered nearly seventy years ago, the viral strain that recently entered Brazil is clearly new, different, and vastly more dangerous than “old” Zika, scientists report. So that, the vast majority of athletes and spectators of this year's Olympic Games in Brazil understand that the situation is very different in comparison with previous sporting events, and continue to take measures to protect their health.

Related: Spain records first case of baby born with Zika virus-linked defect

Related: Fighting Zika virus in Brazil: WHO takes urgent measures

Related: Olympics 2016: Russia’s team sport kit redesigned due to Zika virus

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