Organisers of the 2016 Olympics are confident the outbreak of the Zika virus will have subsided by the time the Games get under way in Rio de Janeiro in August.
The outbreak was declared a “public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organisation on Monday, with more than 1.5 million Brazilians estimated to have been infected by the mosquito-transmitted virus, which has been linked to birth defects.
Mosquito numbers in the country should ease in the months before the Games, but the local organising committee is keen to show that it is doing all it can to protect athletes, spectators and staff from the virus.
“At the moment we have a new problem and are facing this with the help of the government and the authorities,” said communications director Mario Andrada at a news conference on Tuesday.
“Our priority is the health of the athletes, the health of all Brazilians and protection for all those who work at the Olympics.
“We are sure this battle can be won and will not affect the Games.”
Discussing efforts to combat mosquitoes, which can breed in standing water, Andrada added: “The cost is not significant. Whatever needs to be done for the safety of the athletes and the people that work in the Games.
“We’ll be ready to pay that cost.”
Despite the assertion that these measures will be taken, the Games’ director of medical services Joao Grangeiro has warned athletes to take their own precautions.
“The area [near the Olympic sites] will be constantly monitored and searched for stagnant water,” he commented, while urging those in the athletes’ village to keep their windows closed.
“I also recommend adequate clothing and, if necessary, mosquito repellent.”
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