It’s far too late to move the 2016 Rio Olympics, unless it is to a city that already has the infrastructure from a previous hosting gig. But, it’s not too late to cancel them.
Scientists say hosting the Games in Rio would be “unethical” due to the risks associated with the Zika virus.
On Friday, more than 100 health experts signed a letter, demanding that the Summer Olympics be moved or postponed. The letter was addressed to the World Health Organization and it calls for the body to pressure the International Olympic Committee to cancel the Games.
“The fire is already burning, but that is not a rationale not to do anything about the Olympics,” said Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa and one of the letter’s authors. “It is not the time now to throw more gasoline onto the fire.”
The WHO rejected the letter’s demands. The organization will not get involved at this point.
“Based on the current assessment of Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the games,” the WHO said in a statement.
They are concerned about the recent scientific evidence that the Zika virus causes severe birth defects, most notably small heads in babies. Brazil is a hotspot for the virus and as many as 500,000 people will enter the country during the Olympics. There’s a big possibility that tourists will bring the virus back to their home countries when they return from Rio.
Some athletes are opting not to compete at Rio because of the health concerns. While others say they’ve trained their whole lives for the Olympics and they will go to Rio regardless of the risks.
Rio’s waters are reportedly disgusting and filled with raw sewage. The polluted waters are pretty unsafe to enter, which is a big problem for athletes participating in water sports.