TORONTO — A Canadian professor of law and public health says the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro should be postponed or moved to other venues because of the threat posed by the Zika virus epidemic in Brazil.
Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa says the expected half-million visitors to the Olympic and Paralympic Games pose a risk of spreading the virus once they return to their home countries.
Attaran argues in a commentary published in the Harvard Public Health Review that the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization are being irresponsible in allowing the Games to go ahead.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that has been found to cause underdeveloped brains in babies born to women infected while pregnant. It’s also potentially linked to neurological disorders in some infected children and adults.
Attaran says it’s more important to delay the Games or move them to safer locations than to have unborn babies facing a lifetime of permanent disability.
He says events could be split up using facilities in cities such as London and Beijing, which hosted previous Summer Games.
“This would be taking an unfortunate tragedy known as Zika and fashioning it into the world’s first ever truly global Olympics.”