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Brazilian health minister: no grounds for changing venue for Rio Olympics

June 10, 19:29 UTC+3
The minister hopes the athletes who had refused to participate in the Olympics over the fear of contracting the Zika virus would reconsider their decision
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© EPA/PAULO FONSECA

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 10. /TASS/. There are no grounds for changing the venue for holding the Summer Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro in August this year, Brazilian Health Minister Ricardo Barros said in a reply to a TASS question on Friday.

"No scientific grounds exist for changing the venue for holding the Olympics," Barros told reporters.

The Brazilian health minister said he hoped the athletes who had refused to participate in the Olympics over the fear of contracting the Zika virus would reconsider their decision.

"In actual fact, we’ll be one of the regions with the least spread of the virus [during the Olympics]," the Brazilian health minister said.

"As compared to Brazil, August in many countries where Zika is present is the height of summer and the season that facilitates an increase in mosquitoes, for example, in Caribbean countries, which thousands of tourists visit. The probability of contracting the virus is much higher there than in Rio de Janeiro where winter will continue," the health minister said.

The Zika virus was first isolated in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda. Last May, when the virus started rapidly spreading in Brazil and then spread to other countries of South and North America, it became a topic for wider discussion.

At the moment, outbreaks have been registered in Asia, Africa, in South and North America and in the Pacific region.

Medical professionals note special concern for infected pregnant women, whose children risk developing brain-damaging microcephaly.

The Rio Olympics will be held from August 5 to August 21, 2016. After that, Rio will host the Paralympic Games, due from September 7 to 18.

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