Alongside athletes, doctors have also sounded off their concerns over holding the Olympics 2016 in Brazil which is the epicentre of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa wrote in a report for the Harvard Public Health Review that staging the Olympics in Rio could lead to a “full-blown global health disaster.”
“While Brazil’s Zika inevitably will spread globally — given enough time, viruses always do — it helps nobody to speed that up. In particular, it cannot possibly help when an estimated 500,000 foreign tourists flock into Rio for the Games, potentially becoming infected, and returning to their homes where both local Aedes mosquitoes and sexual transmission can establish new outbreaks,” Attaran wrote in the review.
“All it takes is one infected traveller: indeed phylogenetic and molecular clock analyses establish that Brazil’s cataclysmic outbreak stems from a single viral introduction event likely between May and December 2013. A few viral introductions of that kind, in a few countries, or maybe continents, would make a full-blown global health disaster.”
News.com.au reported that according to Attaran’s suggestions, the Olympics 2016 should be held in a city other than Rio which will host this year’s games. He also suggested that the events could be spread out globally in different cities across the world.
Concerns over the Zika virus led to the relocation of a two-game series between Pittsburgh Pirates and Florida Marlins from Puerto Rico. The players told the Major League Baseball through voting that they are not comfortable playing in the country where the Zika virus infection continues to spread, reported Sports Illustrated.
Half a million visitors to Brazil during the Olympics could be exposed to the virus, creating a major health crisis. According to Attaran, it is still not too late to change the plans.
“For while the financial victims can recover their losses or even go bankrupt and rebuild, for the global health victims there is no such thing as going ‘bankrupt’ on a virus or pandemic,” he said.