Considering the rising menace of Zika virus in parts of Latin and South America, the Kenya’s Olympic Committee has threatened to boycott attending the 2016 Rio Olympics taking place in August in Brazil, unless assurances are given that Kenyan athletes and sports staff would not be exposed to the ravaging infection - Reuters reports.
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According to Kipchoge Keino, head of Kenya’s Olympic committee, “Obviously, we are not going to risk taking Kenyans there is this Zika virus reaches epidemic levels. They have to assure us that the country is safe enough to take athletes there.”
Kenya has one of the best long-distance runners in the world, and has been excelling excellently in the area for decades – some of these skilled athletes are expected to participate at the Rio Olympic even after athletes from the East African country swept several medals at the 2015 World Championships.
Keino himself used to be a great athlete and won several medals for his country in his own time. He won the Olympic gold medals at the Mexico City and Munich Olympics, and now the chairman of the National Olympics Committee of Kenya. He said his office has contacted the organizers of the Olympics over their fears of Zika.
"We have made it clear that unless they clean the venues of this potentially dangerous disease, we will not go there," Keino said. "But if they assure us that things are in order and there is no risk to participants, mothers, we will go."
Zika virus has been linked to neurological disorders and microcephaly – abnormally small head in newborns, and the World Health Organization on February 1 declared Zika virus an international health emergency.
It is not only Kenya that threatened to boycott the Rio Olympics over fears of Zika infection, but the United States Olympic committee also advised its sports federations to keep back athletes and staff if they fear they could be exposed to the virus infection.
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And the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns pregnant women or those planning to get pregnant to avoid traveling to places with Zika outbreaks.