Home » News » Will the Olympics go on? Three major concerns in Rio, addressed

Will the Olympics go on? Three major concerns in Rio, addressed


The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are slated to start in August, but there are rumblings of concern about civil unrest, and the threat of the Zika virus still looms large.

The question of whether or not Rio can pull off the Olympic Games has been debated for months, but with the Opening Ceremonies less than three months away, the rhetoric is becoming more urgent: Is it possible that the Olympics would ever be postponed?
This week, a leading Canadian public health professor urged the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Games as a “precautionary concession” to prevent the Zika virus from growing into a “forseeable global catastrophe.”
As for Brazil’s political climate, the word “crisis” seems to be a constant descriptor. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is facing impeachment. The country is now under the leadership of interim President Michael Temer, who says the country is facing “the worst economic crisis” in its history.
“Eleven million unemployed, inflation up two digits, deficit of 100 billion reals and the situation of health care in Brazil is chaotic,” he said after assuming his temporary office.
On top of it all, ticket sales for the Games are slow and athletes have expressed concern for their health and safety.
Do all of these concerns really warrant serious talk about postponement or boycotting? According to experts, the answer is generally, no. Here’s why:

On Zika fears: Winter in Rio means low mosquito threat

The Olympics are occurring in August, which is the middle of winter for the southern hemisphere. While winter in Rio may not be the type of winter we in the States are used to, it is the coolest and driest time of year in Brazil. That affects mosquito populations, including that of the Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries the Zika virus.
“The way the life cycle of the Aedes mosquito goes is that a female will lay their eggs on surfaces of small water containers and the eggs will hatch when the water level rises,” explained Professor Uriel Kitron, chair of Emory University’s Environmental Science unit, and a longtime researcher of the Aedes aegypti. “So during the dry season, very often the eggs will just stay there and will not hatch until the rainy season comes, in the fall and in the spring.”
While some mosquitoes live through the winter as adults, the Aegypti overwinters as eggs, so that could mean few adults would be around to bite during August, says Kitron, especially if government efforts to spray repellant throughout Rio during the cooler month of July are successful.
Of course, that would mean the city would also need to clean up any standing water sources that do not dry up.
Page 1 of 1