Health, wellness & sport

Rio Olympics

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Some athletes who planned to compete in the Olympics have cancelled, as has one prominent journalist. The Rio de Janeiro-based games are only weeks away. That does not mean several large nations will not pull out and ruin the games, nor that the games could be, and should be, cancelled altogether.

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In recent months, the Zika virus has spread rapidly and explosively, leading to travel alerts for more than 20 countries and territories, confirmation that the virus can be spread sexually, and the World Health Organization’s classification of the virus—and its associated health risks—as a global health emergency. Throughout it all, Brazil, a country at the epicenter of the virus, has wrestled with clumsy vaccine testing and overrun hospitals, battled public perception, and faced the inevitable, tough-to-avoid question it doesn't want to even consider: Should the 2016 Summer Olympics be canceled?
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Thus far, the International Olympic Committee has echoed Brazil’s sentiment. Committee president Thomas Bach said he is “very confident” in the steps taken to address the outbreak. In the unlikely event the IOC should decide to cancel the Olympics, it would be the sixth time in history the Games have been scrapped, and the only time in history they’ve been changed because of health reasons—previous dates in 1916 (Berlin), 1940 (Tokyo and Sapporo), and 1944 (London and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy) were all canned because of international wars.
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The virus, which has now spread to 60 countries and can also be transmitted through sex, was in February declared a global health emergency. In April, the Centers for Disease Control determined that despite earlier theories, the virus does, indeed, cause microcephaly and other birth defects. Experts concerned about the Olympics and calling for their delay or cancellation have said the influx of people in Brazil could potentially accelerate the virus's spread around the world, and spark even more outbreaks. Brazil, for its part, has refused to entertain the possibility.
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Whether to cancel the Rio Olympics is more complicated than the presence of Zika alone and is being increasingly debated.
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