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BOA sure athletes will be safe in Rio

Brazilian authorities are scrambling to contain the outbreak which threatens to keep visitors from attending the Olympics

The Bermuda Olympic Association has been assured that the threat of the Zika virus will not pose a threat to the safety of its athletes at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.

Along with all other National Olympic Committees, the BOA has received reassurances from the International Olympic Committee over health concerns stemming from the outbreak of the virus.

The BOA said yesterday it was its intention to have Bermuda’s qualifying athletes, which include sprinter Tre Houston, long jumper Tyrone Smith, sailor Cecilia Wollmann and triathlete Flora Duffy, competing at the Olympics.

During the lead-up to the Olympics, the BOA also plans to consult with Bermuda’s chief medical officer, the Government and the National Sports Governing Bodies for more advice and guidance.

“The BOA will ensure Bermuda’s athletes and representatives who travel to the Games are aware of the risks and advised to take precautions against mosquito bites,” the BOA said in a statement.

“Women who are planning to become pregnant are similarly advised to carefully assess the potential risks of travelling to the Games.

“The BOA remains in close contact with the IOC, who in turn are in contact with the World Health Organisation to obtain updates and guidance regarding Zika.”

Rio’s Olympic organising committee has advised that the Games will not be postponed or cancelled because of the outbreak of Zika.

The IOC has also assured that protective measures, including daily inspections to remove standing water where mosquitoes could breed around Olympic venues will be in place.

According to the WHO, Brazil is doing a good job tackling the Zika virus and ensuring that the Olympics will be safe for athletes and visitors.

Margaret Chan, the WHO director general, said Brazil’s government is doing all it can to fight the “formidable” Aedes mosquito that transmits the virus that has spread rapidly through the Americas since last year.

“I want to reassure you that the government is working very closely with the international Olympic movement, with the local organising committee, supported by the WHO, to make sure we have a very good work plan to target the mosquito, and to make sure that people who will come here either as visitors or athletes will get the maximum protection they need,” Chan said.

“I’m confident the government can do it.”

The virus has been linked in Brazil to an alarming surge in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads, a condition known as microcephaly, and other neurological disorders.

Brazil’s Health Ministry said that the number of confirmed and suspected cases of microcephaly has risen to 4,690 from 4,443 a week earlier. Of these, the number of confirmed cases climbed to 583 from 508 a week earlier.

Brazilian authorities are scrambling to contain the outbreak which threatens to keep visitors from attending the Olympics, which run from August 5 to 21.

With no cure or vaccine for Zika, the only way to deal with the virus at present is to reduce the population of the Aedes mosquito that also carries the dengue and chikungunya viruses.