Zika no threat to Rio Games, German Olympic doctor says

Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:58am EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - The spread of the Zika virus in Brazil needs to be monitored but is not a threat to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Germany's chief Olympic doctor said on Wednesday.

The German Olympic Sports Confederation's leading doctor, Bernd Wolfarth, told Reuters, however, it was up to the athletes themselves whether they attended.

"Apart from the fact athletes decide for themselves and freely whether they will compete or not, one must now follow the development (of the virus) very carefully," he said.

The mosquito-borne virus, which is widespread in Brazil and has been linked to birth defects, has prompted concern among athletes and sports officials around the world as they prepare for the Aug. 5-21 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Kenya caused a stir on Tuesday when the head of its Olympics committee said the team might withdraw from the Rio Games because of Zika, but officials said later it was too soon to decide on the impact of the virus.

Earlier on Wednesday, Toni Minichiello, the coach of reining heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, said Britain should move its preparation camp for the Rio Games outside Brazil and that he would not encourage his client to defend her title.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, so combating the outbreak is focused on eradicating mosquito populations and preventing mosquito bites.

(This version of the story was refiled to edit the headline.)

(Reporting by Thorsten Severin; Writing by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

Workers from a public cleaning company wear T-shirts that read, "Out Zika " as they dance before collecting garbage during the carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares