The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has rejected a plea by 150 experts to postpone or move this summer’s Rio Olympics due to the ongoing threat posed by the Zika virus.
The panel of experts wrote an open letter to the World Health Organisation and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressing their concern about the danger posed by the virus which has been linked to brain defects in babies.
The scientists said the games should be moved or postponed ‘in the name of public health’ because of the threat the virus poses the estimated 500,000 tourists and competitors due to attend the games.
However, the WHO has followed the advice of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who said there is no reason to delay or move the games which are due to begin on August 5.
They claimed the Rio tournament ‘would not significantly alter’ the spread of the virus.
According to the WHO: ‘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.’
It said: ‘The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice.’
The WHO said pregnant women should avoid areas where Zika is prevalent.