150 health experts around the globe have just delivered an open letter to the World Health Organisation, asking for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this August to be moved or postponed.
The letter argued that it would be “irresponsible” and “unethical” to bring half a million people a city dealing with a Zika virus outbreak, as they could easily take the virus home with them.
Charles Watson, a professor of health sciences at Curtin University, told ABC News the Games should be postponed, but doubted they would with so much money already invested in it.
“My feeling is that it’s unlikely at this stage that this will happen,” he said. “But if that’s true, Australia should take steps to make sure that Zika virus introduction here is either prevented or the harm is minimised when it actually gets here.”
“I think we’ve got a lot of work to do in Australia.”
“A single person actually caused the epidemic that’s happening now… Putting 500,000 people in there and then giving them a chance to get infected, sending them all home to their other countries is just an unimaginably risky thing to tolerate.”
“At a minimum, they should screen all people coming back from Brazil after the period of the Games and make sure they’re given the right advice.”
However, the World Health Organisation has downplayed the idea of a threat.
“Brazil is one of almost 60 countries and territories which to date report continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes,” said a statement released by the WHO.
“People continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons.”
“The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice… WHO will continue to monitor the situation and update our advice as necessary.”
Steve Lawrence, Executive Director of the West Australian Institute of Sport, said the Australian Olympic Committee would do everything it could to keep the athletes safe.
“The AOC is a very, very proficient organisation. It’s got the interest of the athletes wellbeing and health at the very forefront.”
”We’ve had athletes asking and looking for information and that’s been provided, but it’s also probably worthwhile mentioning that our athletes have been travelling backwards and forwards to Brazil over the last couple of years in preparation.”
Are you concerned about the health risk of so many Australian fans and athletes going to Rio, or is this an acceptable risk?