Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Sports

The selfish IOC refuses to postpone Rio Games

If the Rio de Janeiro Olympics go on as planned, it apparently will not be over Pau Gasol's dead body.

Or those of Rory McIlroy or Hope Solo or Carmelo Anthony or Serena Williams.

All have said they're worried about contracting the Zika virus, though Williams says she still wants to go if she's "super protected."

"I'm not an expert on pathogens," she admitted.

Williams essentially is like you, me and millions of others. We don't want to freak out over Zika, but the thought of a mosquito bite leading to deformed babies is a bit troubling.

We need the advice of experts, and 152 of them sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee and World Health Organization. It urged them to postpone or move the Games.

The WHO, which advises the IOC, received the letter over the weekend and promptly threw it in the trash.

Again, I barely know Zika from Zumba. But the more you read about this, the more irresponsible the IOC and WHO appear.

I mean, what's a few more severely handicapped kids if that means we get to see Usain Bolt go for another gold medal?

"Stopping the Games will not stop Zika," WHO spokesperson Nyka Alexander told The Telegraph.

Nobody said it would. But scientists from around the globe say inviting 500,000 visitors into the heart of the Zika outbreak is not exactly going to help matters.

They accuse the IOC and WHO of being in cahoots. Given that the WHO is run by the United Nations and the IOC has historically been run by despots and greedmongers, the burden of proof is not on the scientists.

"The IOC is of the same ilk as FIFA — unelected, undemocratic organizations with too much money and power," professor Edwin van Teijlingen said in an email.

He is an expert in reproductive health at Bournemouth University in England. About 1,300 Brazilian children have been diagnosed with microcephaly, a condition that causes abnormally small heads and brains.

Adults who get Zika usually suffer severe flu-like symptoms, though it has also been linked to nervous system disorders. The real fear is that someone will go to Rio, contract the virus, return home and get bitten by a mosquito.

That mosquito then becomes a Zika-carrying missile. And there is no cure.

"Bringing a variant of the Zika virus to South Asia or parts of Africa can be a disaster," van Teijlingen said.

He might have added another warm-weather locale — Florida.

The WHO points out that 500,000 Olympic visitors is a tiny fraction of the travel expected in Zika-infected regions this year. Sure, but it's still 500,000 more potential Zika carriers than necessary.

The pompous IOC considers the Olympics an absolute global necessity. No doubt, moving or postponing the Games would be a colossal task. But IOC member Dick Pound has even called Zika a "manufactured crisis."

Yeah, sort of like Brazil's political crisis, crime crisis and pollution crisis. I'm guessing Pound will spend the Opening Ceremony in the Zika-proof IOC skyboxes, raising champagne toasts with NBC executives to the impending ratings blowout.

Nothing short of a zombie apocalypse is going to change their plans. Never mind that the first principle in the Olympic Charter preaches "social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental principles."

The frustrating thing is Rio will undoubtedly be a TV spectacle and the IOC will declare the Games a grand success. But there is no way to measure their impact on Zika.

How do you trace a case of microcephaly in Thailand or Tampa to a mosquito that bit a guy who'd spent a week watching the equestrian competition in Brazil?

Don't ask the IOC. It will be too busy counting money and pretending it has principles.

Doing all you can to protect the unborn certainly isn't one of them.

— Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

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