Will Zika Ruin the Olympics 2016 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil?
Seven years ago Brazil was awarded the Olympics to be held in Rio in August 2016. It is the first time the Olympics will come to South America in its 120 year history. Recent changes in Brazil has brought it into its greatest recession in over 100 years, the biggest political crisis since becoming a democracy, and potential global health crisis- Zika.
Earlier this month, the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff was started after many efforts by the people. She was believed to misuse federal funds, causing their mountainous deficit, which is a violation of federal law. Rousseff is also believed to have taken illegal campaign contributions from Petrobas, in the energy sector.
When Brazil won the Olympics, 2010 saw a 7% growth in GDP, the government was expanding poverty and healthcare programs, and efforts to address persistently high rates of income inequality. The Brazil hosting the Olympics this summer is now in an era of austerity, and could tarnish all its anti-poverty efforts. The government has proposed cuts to housing, education, and poverty programs and currently has an unemployment rate of 11%. It was estimated the Olympics would bring $30 billion in foreign investment and economic impact to the country. But since the Brazil bond status stands as “junk”, they are not to expect much of a boost.
Health ‘Crisis’- Zika
After researching the virus, the symptoms, and the governments proposed ‘prevention’, I found it to seem more like a scare tactic to impose and stress protected sex or abstinence, to scare people to avoid pregnancy, and to avoid travel to areas with Zika outbreaks. The CDC website,
uses the scary symptoms (which I am not discrediting as it is a virus and proper precautions should be taken), however all the important facts and data to back up how travelers and residents would catch the virus are all still ‘unknown’ after months and months of the virus being around. It seems to ‘spread’ more than be studied and prevented or abolished.
Will the Zika virus ruin the Olympics in Rio?
Besides one health expert from the University of Ottawa, Amir Attaran, who made the bold claim that the Olympics should be postponed or relocated, all others like the UN and the WHO state it will not be a major impact on the games. Diane Gubler, a leading researcher on mosquito-borne diseases from Duke-NUS Medical School, says Zika is a very low risk to Olympic attenders.
“Travel to the Olympics represent less than a quarter of 1% of all travel to Zika infected areas.”
Flu or food poisoning are more likely threats than Zika, since August in Rio is winter and not mosquito season. The weather will be cold and dry, Rio is far from the epicenter of the outbreaks in Northeast Brazil (where 90% confirmed cases originated).
During the World Cup 2014 in Rio the Dengue virus had its highest rates of infection in Brazil and there were 3 cases out of 1 million people, all contracted 300 miles north of Rio.
The vast majority cases of Zika don’t seem to harm individuals who contract it. Half experience no symptoms. The main risk is to fetuses and reproductive age females, so it is advised to wear insect repellent and use condoms to prevent transmission.
Scott Weaver- a leading Zika specialist at the University of Texas, Galveston, says there is a rare chance the Olympic traveler catches Zika and exports the virus to another country with mosquitoes; that could spread it around. But also says there is little reason to worry. “Likely that rates of human immunity in many other parts of the world that are permissive for circulation, such as tropical Africa and Asia are already high enough to preclude major epidemics like we are seeing in the completely native populations of the Americas.” The Zika virus has been circulating in these areas for decades.
The question is why the government wants us to be so scared of Zika, with no evidence to back up their statements? Is it population control? Is it negative PR for top tourist and business centers?