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, and she's not taking any chances with the Zika virus.
 
Silva is a Brazilian wrestler who hopes to win an Olympic medal in just over six months in Rio de Janeiro. At a test event Jan. 31 for the games, at a venue in Rio's new Olympic Park, she wasn't alone in being concerned.
 
Several non-Brazilian athletes talked about slathering on mosquito repellent, staying in their hotel rooms and away from the water and the beaches in order to avoid mosquitoes.
 
Brazil is an epicenter of the rapidly spreading Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease that Brazilian scientists say 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 as organizers prepare for hundreds of thousands of visitors.
 
"For me it's very worrying," said Silva, who 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, a three-time world champion who will be an Olympic favorite for gold, 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," said Gray, who 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 to watch 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, looking for standing water 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 when it's 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 (4)
  • mauryg-612-
    2/04/2016 - 01:16 p.m.

    I think Adeline Gray was banned from swimming because mosquito's are attracted to water and there the ones carrying the Zika virus. So that is why I think she was banned from swimming.

  • kendrah-pla
    2/09/2016 - 10:20 a.m.

    This article touches on the Zika virus, spread by mosquito bites, and how it affects Olympic athletes leaving their countries. The Zika virus is most dangerous to pregnant woman, because it can cause shrunken brain syndrome. The level of civic engagement here is engaging, because some athletes are so fearful of contracting another exotic disease that they are going to extremes to prevent it. I think it is important to be wary of disease (in this case by wearing a lot of bug spray), and another potentially harmful one only increases the need to be aware of what's going on in the world.

  • lexiek-bru
    2/09/2016 - 12:58 p.m.

    Adeline Grey was banned from swimming in Brazil because she is trying to avoid the Zika virus. She is wearing lots off mosquito repellent and avoiding the outdoors. She is also wearing long shirts and long pants during her stay to avoid getting bit. Adeline is trying to stay out of contact with the mosquitos as much as possible. These are a few reasons Adeline was banned from swimming.

  • karih-pla
    2/10/2016 - 12:20 a.m.

    Olympic athletes are concerned about a Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, and some even believe this virus may cause the relocation of the Olympic games. Although many athletes are anxious about this mosquito-borne virus, the circumstances will not stop them from competing for they have worked incredibly hard to make it this far. The competing athletes must take precautions to avoid this virus; most importantly, everyone must wear insect repellent. Since Zika is linked to birth defects and primarily harms pregnant women, the athletes should not be greatly affected if they stay safe.
    The athletes and all those attending the Olympic games are well informed about this Zika outbreak, which demonstrates civic engagement. Although athletes must take safety precautions, they are willing to travel to South America regardless. I believe many will still support the Olympic games and will attend to support the city as well as their fellow competitors.

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