A total of 150 health experts have signed an open letter addressed to the World Health Organization asking for the Rio Olympics to be moved or postponed because of the Zika virus.
The International Olympic Committee is copied on the letter.
The letter calls for the 2016 Olympics Games to be moved “in the name of public health.” The Zika virus is highly prevalent in Brazil, and has been linked to neurological disorders in adults in addition to causing numerous serious problems for pregnant women. The virus is mostly transferred through mosquito bites, but can also spread through sexual contact.
The IOC has said they will not alter the schedule of the Olympics in any way. The WHO and United States health officials have not said the Rio games need to be postponed or canceled.
“The Brazilian strain of Zika virus harms health in ways that science has not observed before,” the letter states. “An unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic ... It is unethical to run the risk, just for Games that could proceed anyway, if postponed and/or moved.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee said the decision to travel to Brazil amid Zika concerns is up to the athletes individually. Earlier this month, Major League Baseball canceled a series between the Pirates and Marlins in Puerto Rico due to concerns over Zika.
The Olympics are scheduled to begin in August. You can read the full open letter here.