Olympic athletes make plans to avoid Zika virus Cuba's gold medalist Lisette Hechevarria, left, competes with Brazil's Aline Ferreira da Silva, also known as Aline Silva, during the women's wrestling Greco-Roman 72 kg at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Gregory Bull/File)
Olympic athletes make plans to avoid Zika virus
Lexile

Aline Silva has had the dengue fever twice. So she's not taking any chances with the Zika virus.
 
Silva is a Brazilian wrestler. She hopes to win an Olympic medal in just over six months in Rio de Janeiro. She was at a test event Jan. 31 for the games. She was at a venue in Rio's new Olympic Park. And she wasn't alone in being concerned.
 
Several non-Brazilian athletes talked about slathering on mosquito repellent. They stay in their hotel rooms. And they stay away from the water and the beaches. They want to avoid mosquitoes.
 
Brazil is at the center of the rapidly spreading Zika virus. It's a mosquito-borne disease. Brazilian scientists say it is linked to a rare birth defect.
 
The growing international health emergency around Zika could scare athletes and fans from coming to South America's first Olympics.  Organizers are preparing for hundreds of thousands of visitors.
 
"For me, it's very worrying," Silva said. She applies repellent about every 90 minutes when she's away from home.
 
"Really, the biggest problem is in training and competing, when I can't use it (repellent)," she said. "I have had dengue twice. So I am aware about all of this. Maybe I am more worried than most."
 
Asked if other Brazilian athletes were concerned about Zika, Silva replied: "Yes, of course."
 
American wrestler Adeline Gray is a three-time world champion. She will be an Olympic favorite for gold. She raised the issue of Zika's link to birth defects and cases of babies being born with unusually small heads and possible brain damage.
 
"I think if I was planning to have a child next month, I would be extremely uneasy about this," Gray said. She competes in the 75-kilogram class. "Maybe that would have changed my decision (to come here)."
 
Gray said her coaches have banned her from going swimming in Brazil during her stay.
 
"Unfortunately we're not spending too much time outside. We're wearing long sleeves, long pants and just making sure we have on as much bug spray as we can."
 
Gray said she's trying to avoid the distraction. As several reporters kept asking her questions, she politely stepped away. She watched an ongoing match at the new Carioca Arena 1.
 
"This anxiety has to kind of subside so you can focus on what you are doing," she said. "If you are worried about that in the back of your mind, then you're not doing your job well enough."
 
Japan coach Shigeo Kinase gave similar advice to his wrestlers about staying indoors.
 
"We are trying not to leave the hotel too often," he said. "If my athletes go out shopping, I go with them."
 
Rio organizers have been scouring Olympics venues daily for two weeks. They are looking for standing water. That's where mosquitoes breed. Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said the inspections would continue daily until the games open Aug. 5. That will be in Brazil's winter. The climate then is cooler, drier and the mosquito population is smaller.
 
Andrada emphasized that no one is publicly talking about canceling or postponing the games.
 
"This has never been mentioned. No way," Andrada said. "It's impossible to do that. There is no reason to do that."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why was Adeline Gray banned from swimming?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (9)
  • mattl-bel
    2/05/2016 - 09:30 a.m.

    Because of a bad viruse.

  • tylerr2-bel
    2/05/2016 - 09:31 a.m.

    Because of a bad virus.

  • elliew-bel
    2/05/2016 - 09:34 a.m.

    So she doesn't get the Zika Virus.

  • sophies-bel
    2/05/2016 - 09:36 a.m.

    She was banned from swimming because mosquitos breed in water and that's probably where the zika virus is most likly to be.

  • silverc-bel
    2/05/2016 - 09:37 a.m.

    So she doesn't get the ziki virus to keep her back from the Olympic Games.

  • sarahj-bel
    2/05/2016 - 09:37 a.m.

    Adeline Gray was banned from swimming because that is where the mosquitos lay there eggs in the water.

  • jenniek-bel
    2/05/2016 - 09:37 a.m.

    To avoid mosquitos because the Sikh virus is mosquito borne.

  • amartinez-gom
    2/05/2016 - 02:00 p.m.

    If I was in the olymics I would also be worried about the zika virus because it can cause your body to have a virus so if your body has a virus how are you supposed to try your best.

  • hannah6-war
    2/11/2016 - 01:10 p.m.

    If I were an Olympian or anyone who was going to the games in Rio de Janeiro I would be very concerned and cautious. I would be scared that I would catch something so to be honest, I don't know if I would go at all. I think the sickness is scary and can cause damage to many people who have it. I would not like to have to stay inside all day or not go swimming because that is not fun at all.

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