February 2, 2016 2:05 pm

Zika virus overshadows buildup to Rio de Janeiro Olympics

Mario Andrada, spokesperson for the Rio Olympic Organizing Committee, speaks next to a screen that reads in Portuguese : "Message about Zika" during a media briefing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016.

AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

RIO DE JANEIRO – The Zika virus is overshadowing the final preparations for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, even eclipsing concerns over deep budget cuts and severe water pollution.

Hundreds of reporters packed Olympic headquarters on Tuesday to hear about ticket sales, venue construction and a reminder that Friday marks six months until the opening of the games on Aug. 5.

Instead, they got the organizers’ medical director, Dr. Joao Grangeiro, and government health officials offering assurances that the games will be safe from Zika and that only pregnant women are at risk from the mosquito-borne virus with its epicenter in Brazil.

Grangeiro says athletes “will not be at risk.” He says organizers are following guidelines by the World Health Organization, which calls the spread of the virus an “extraordinary event and public health threat.”

© 2016 The Canadian Press

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.

Global News