Yorkshire’s Olympians are among hundreds of Team GB athletes who are being issued key guidance as the Zika virus threatens to affect this summer’s Games in Rio.
With just six months to go until Britain’s athletes fly to Brazil, the British Olympic Association has insisted Team GB’s participation in the Games will go ahead as planned, but have advised athletes on how to avoid contracting the virus.
No Team GB members have as yet voiced concern over travelling to Rio, but BOA are ensuring their athletes have all the information they need as they enter the final stages of their Olympic preparations.
“Given the ongoing concerns over the Zika virus outbreak, the BOA has been working closely with the British Paralympic Association and the home country sports institutes to develop a specific guidance note, drawing on all the latest medical advice,” said BOA’s chief executive, Bill Sweeney.
“This is being issued to sports to share with their athletes and staff and aims to address any concerns, enabling them to fully focus on their own important preparations for Rio.
“The BOA has no higher priority than the safety and health of its athletes and delegation and, based on the information currently available, plans for Team GB’s participation in Rio 2016 remain on course.
“We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming months, staying in close contact with Rio 2016, the IOC and with UK Government’s public health agencies to ensure we continue to proactively offer the latest and best possible advice for sports to share with their athletes and staff, as well as friends and family and the wider Team GB delegation.”
The virus was first identified in Brazil in April 2015, with an estimated 1.5million people having since been infected across the country.
Olympic venues will be inspected before the Games begin on August 5, amid concerns stagnant water may have been contaminated.
And while International Olympic Committee officials are hopeful that August’s cooler climate may help to reduce the virus’ growth, they are taking no risks in ensuring the Games go ahead without incidence.
Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis-Hill is among the athletes receiving information from BOA, but insists the guidance being issued puts her mind at rest.
“I think all athletes at the moment are concerned,” she said. “It’s something that we have to be aware of and we have to think seriously about.
“I think for me personally it’s just being informed by the BOA, by the IOC, having all the information and obviously we are a good few months away from the Olympics so it’s seeing how things change between now and then.”