Thursday 22 March 2018

Olympic Council of Ireland 'monitoring' Zika outbreak ahead of Rio 2016

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach

The Olympic Council of Ireland says it is monitoring the current outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil but does not yet see the need to urge specific precautions to athletes heading to Rio 2016.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said on Thursday he will be writing to all national Olympic bodies advising on how best to confront the virus, which the World Health Organisation saying it is spreading "explosively" in the South American country.

The virus is primarily spread through mosquito bites and has been linked to birth defects and neurological problems. The WHO is meeting on Monday to discuss whether to declare the outbreak an international emergency.

An Olympic Council of Ireland spokesperson told "We are monitoring the situation and liaising with the international Olympic committee and Rio 2016.

"Sean Gaine, our chief medical officer, is working closely with the relevant parties on behalf of Team Ireland. There is a very high-powered medical commission in place and we will be doing everything to ensure our athletes safety."

Bach said the IOC are working in close contact with the Brazilian authorities to make sure the most up-to-date information regarding the virus and its prevention are disseminated to the relevant international bodies.

However, both Bach and officials in Rio have stressed that the Games are taking place during the country's winter, when the virus is not considered to be at its most prevalent.

Additional reporting by PA

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