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USA issues Zika warning to athletes
08 Feb 2016 12:12
The United States Olympic Committee has said that athletes concerned for their health over the Zika virus should consider not going to the Rio Olympics.
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The message was delivered in a conference call involving USOC officials and leaders of US sport federations. Full details of the call last month haven’t been made public.
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However, President of USA Fencing Donald Anthony said that athletes were advised that no one should go to Brazil ‘if they don't feel comfortable going. Bottom line’.
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The USOC's briefing to sport federations is the latest sign that Olympics officials are taking the Zika threat to the Games in Rio de Janeiro seriously.
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The United States won most medals at the last Olympics in London in 2012, so any disruption to its presence would have a significant impact on the Rio games.
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Global health authorities suspect the mosquito-borne Zika virus has caused a spike in Brazil of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by an abnormally small head.
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As a result, the World Health Organization has declared an international health emergency, with pregnant women or those considering becoming pregnant advised to avoid travel to places with Zika outbreaks.
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"One of the things that they immediately said was, especially for women that may be pregnant or even thinking of getting pregnant, that whether you are scheduled to go to Rio or no, that you shouldn't go,” said Anthony, himself a former Olympian.
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"And no one should go if they feel at all as though that that threat could impact them."
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