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Should The 2016 Rio Olympic Games Proceed Despite The Zika Virus Update? International Olympic Committee Confident It Will Push Through

by Therese Agcopra / Feb 07, 2016 08:21 AM EST
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is confident things will go as planned for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Zika virus is not something that world leaders are dealing with lightly. Nations are clamoring to prevent a possible Zika virus epidemic within their territories as the disease spreads without any known vaccine. Consequently, there has been a growing support towards the cancellation of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which sits in the middle of some of the most heavily affected countries.

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a global health emergency, and warned that the mosquito-borne virus is "spreading explosively" across the Americas and possibly in other reaches throughout the globe.

Brazil's Health Ministry reported that an estimate of 500,000 to 1.5 million people is infected with the Zika virus in the country, as noted by USA Today.

Travellers to Brazil are under a high threat of exposure to the virus, particularly women who risk the possibility of giving birth to children with microcephaly if ever they get infected.

It's not just fans drawn to the games that should worry, but even athletes, coaches, organizers and other delegates to the 2016 Olympic Games as well.

While the Zika virus was initially thought to be transmitted through mosquito bites, new cases confirm that a person could get the virus through sexual intercourse with an infected person. Brazilian scientists also revealed on Friday that live strains of the virus were discovered in samples of human saliva and urine.

New York Times reported that researchers believe the virus may spread through kissing and sexual intercourse. Although further study is needed to truly identify the risk level, researchers still warn against committing the above acts at the height of the epidemic.

Slalom canoeist Jessica Fox, who will be representing Australia at the Olympics, has also expressed her concern over the Zika virus.

"That is obviously a concern, especially because I always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes. Everywhere I go I'm always the first to get bitten. If I do qualify for Rio I definitely will have some insect repellent in my bag. But I guess the AOC and the IOC will be taking this threat seriously and they will do their best to keep us safe," Fox said.

Despite increasing international concern, organizers of the 2016 Rio Olympics is certain that the Zika virus outbreak does not pose any severe threat on the Games.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach announced on Monday athletes and spectators will be accommodated to good and safe conditions at the events.

The committee is scheduled to inspect venues of the Games-such as swimming pools-to make sure that they are safe and mosquito-free. Governing bodies around the globe are also keeping tabs on the monitoring process.

Brazil's sports minister also assured fans and delegates that the government is fully equipped to ensure that the 2016 Rio Olympic Games take place in an atmosphere of security and tranquility.

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