Brazilian tourist chiefs have emphasised that the Olympic Games will go ahead in Rio de Janeiro this summer despite the threat of the Zika virus.
In an official note to travel industry partners, Embratur – the Brazilian Tourism Board – says there is no discussion over the possibility of postponing or cancelling the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Embratur and other Brazilian government agencies are guided by the recommendations of the World Health Organisation, who stated in a speech on May 28, that delaying the Games does not alter the spread of the virus, which is already circulating in 60 countries and territories,” the tourism body said. “Therefore, there is no reason to change the Games in Rio.”
Embratur stressed that the Olympics and Paralympics will take place with “utmost attention given to the health of the participants and spectators of the biggest sporting event in the world”.
It said the WHO “maintains its determination not to recommend restrictive measures for travel and international trade, with the exception to pregnant women, who are advised not to travel to areas affected by the outbreak of Zika”.
Embratur estimates that between 300,000 and 500,000 international visitors will visit Brazil for the Games.
The Brazilian government, in constant contact with the WHO and the Pan American Health Organisation, are taking all necessary measures to ensure the effective combat of mosquito outbreaks, with specific actions to the headquarters of the competition, Rio de Janeiro, and the cities that will host football matches, it added.
“Embratur reinforces that Brazil will do everything it can to ensure that the Games take place safely and peacefully, for athletes, technical staff and tourists,” the statement said.
“Before the 2014 FIFA World Cup, researchers at the University of São Paulo predicted that only around three foreign tourists would contract dengue fever (transmitted by the same mosquito that spreads the Zika virus), among the 700,000 visitors from other countries who visited Brazil during the competition. The researchers were right: only three individuals were affected.
“In a similar study, the same researchers concluded that the possibilities of an international visitor contracting Zika at the Olympics are extremely rare.
“In addition, it is winter in Brazil during the Games, which is the time of year where mosquito-borne diseases are most infrequent.”
However, it added: “Preventive measures are still recommended to reduce the presence of mosquitoes that transmit the disease.
“Practical guidelines include: using mosquito repellents, keeping doors and windows closed or screened, wearing trousers and long sleeved shirts.”
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