IOC gives thumbs-up to anti-Zika measures

Mon Feb 1, 2016 10:46pm EST
 
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has welcomed measures being taken to tackle the mosquito-borne Zika virus and believes the spread of the virus across South America will not adversely affect the Rio de Janeiro Games in August.

While applauding the World Health Organization's declaration that the virus was an international public health emergency, Bach said he was confident athletes would feel safe travelling to Brazil for global sport's showpiece.

"We welcome this decision by the World Health Organisation (WHO) because it helps raise even more awareness and to provide even more resources to fight the virus," Bach told reporters at the University of California, Los Angeles on Monday.

"We are in the close contact with the WHO and we see also that so far there is no travel ban being pronounced by the WHO.

"We also see that the Olympic Games will be taking place in the winter time which is not the preferred breeding time for the mosquitoes," Bach said after meeting with members of LA24, the group trying to bring the 2024 Summer Games to Los Angeles.

Rio 2016 organisers have said the Games, from Aug. 5-21, will be during Brazil's winter months when a "dryer, cooler climate significantly reduces the presence of mosquitoes".

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told reporters earlier on Monday that an international coordinated response was needed, although restrictions on travel or trade were not necessary.

The emergency designation was recommended by a committee of independent experts to the United Nations agency following criticism of a hesitant response so far. The move should help fast-track international action and research priorities.   Continued...

 
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach leaves after a news conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse