IOC president ‘confident’ in handling of Zika virus ahead of Rio Olympics
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says he is “confident” in the handling of the Zika virus, which has become a crisis in Central and South America, ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak an international public health emergency on Monday. The virus, which is carried by mosquitos and has been linked to birth defects, has now been identified in 23 countries.
Olympic athletes have already expressed their concern over the virus’ presence in Brazil, but Bach said the widespread efforts to prevent the spread of the disease should provide comfort.
“We are very confident for different reasons,” Bach said, according to USA Today. “First of all, that we welcome in this respect the actions undertaken by the World Health Organization to declare this a global health emergency, because this creates not only more awareness but also more funds to address the issue. Secondly, we have seen the Brazilian authorities really have a campaign already underway.”
Rio organizers have begun monitoring mosquito breeding grounds near Olympic venues so they can be destroyed. Bach also noted there will likely be fewer mosquitos to transmit the virus during the games, which will run from Aug. 5–21, during the winter in Brazil.
The Rio Olympics have come under scrutiny for their failure to clean up polluted water—which can also serve as breeding grounds for mosquitos—and athletes have reported illness after coming in contact with the water.