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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 17th June 2016 > THE BUGS FROM BRAZIL


Experts say the Olympics should be postponed or moved because of Zika


IN AUGUST, Rio de Janiero will host roughly 10,000 Olympic athletes and more than a million spectators, including 500,000 from abroad. A significant number of them will become infected with Zika. The question is: How serious will the consequences be?

With Brazil in the midst of a Zika outbreak that the World Health Organization (WHO) says has infected up to 1.5 million people, more than 200 health experts wrote an open letter in May calling for the games to be postponed or relocated— options that would be extraordinarily challenging only two months before the opening ceremony is slated to commence but not impossible.

International Olympic Committee Director General Christophe De Kepper was upbeat about Rio at an IOC-WHO meeting in May, saying, “We are fully confident that the measures taken by Brazil will provide safe conditions.”

The WHO says the virus will spread regardless of whether the games go ahead and has not recommended a change of venue or cancellation, raising concerns it is sacrificing health to commercialism. “There is an opportunity to post pone,” says professor Arthur Caplan, a bioethics expert and the head of the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Division of Medical Ethics. “It would be expensive and difficult, but it seems to me to be morally required because of these risks.”

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