WHO to conduct Zika Olympic examination

The WHO says it has sent teams of senior scientists to Brazil four times to assess the level of risk to athletes and spectators attending the Olympic Summer Games. Photo: AFP

The World Health Organization is to conduct an examination into the risks of holding the Olympic Games in Brazil because of the Zika virus.

US Senator Jeanne Shaheen has asked WHO to examine whether the Rio Games could accelerate the mosquito-borne virus.

"The Olympics draw people from all over the globe. It's important we understand the health implications," said Shaheen.

On Wednesday, Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy said his concerns about exposure to the virus had eased.

However, former Masters and US PGA champion Vijay Singh and Australia's Marc Leishman are golfers who have already announced their withdrawal from the Olympics because of worries relating to the virus, which is linked to brain defects in newborn babies.

American cyclist Tejay van Garderen, whose wife is pregnant, says he will not compete in Rio.

Shaheen has been a leading voice in the Senate calling for action to address the Zika virus.

WHO said: "The Emergency Committee is mandated to meet within three months of the last meeting.

"The last meeting was 8 March and the June meeting is being planned. As with all Emergency Committees, this one will include reports from affected countries and deliberations about behaviour of arboviruses, the presence of vectors, the capacity of countries to reduce the spread of the disease, and patterns of human travel.

"The committee will consider the situation in Brazil including the Olympics."

WHO say their report will be made public.


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