There could be quite a few empty seats at the Olympic Games this summer. In January, the world was introduced to the newly spread disease known as the Zika virus, which is notoriously prominent in Brazil. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease that is said to cause flu-like symptoms and rashes to those infected. Symptoms can last anywhere from two to seven days, but the major concern is the problems the disease can cause during a woman’s pregnancy. Pregnant women can pass the Zika virus to their offspring if she is bitten by an infected mosquito. This can cause serious birth defects to the brain called microcephaly. Zika is now considered “guilty until proven innocent” because studies have not yet proven that the virus is the absolute reason for microcephaly. Researchers are currently scrambling to figure out how much of a risk the Olympic Games pose in spreading the Zika virus around the world. This is currently raising the ultimate question: could the Rio Olympic Games be cancelled this summer?
Despite all the chaos, most athletes still want to go to Rio. For many, this could be their only chance to participate in the Olympics. Even with the current health concerns, athletes say that they have faith in the sports officials and Brazilian organizers to guarantee their well-being. Committee leaders say it is ultimately up to the athletes, whether or not they attend the Olympics this year.
With about 500,000 people expected to visit Brazil, 200,000 are expected to be Americans. When Americans return, the summer heat will be there waiting for them. Far more mosquitoes will be around to potentially transmit the virus in the United States. However, the United States has had a long history of controlling mosquito-borne diseases, but no one is sure how to treat and regulate this virus yet.
The Zika virus is not the only thing that poses as a threat to the Olympics this summer. Brazil is in the midst of political turmoil, due to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. The country’s economy is also collapsing as they suffer the worst recession in twenty-five years. This also adds to the high crime rates currently unfolding. All of these factors contribute to Brazil’s fear that they will not be able to attract enough tourists to the Olympic Games.
Overall, there is always something to worry about when you travel to another country. However, with the numerous problematic situations in Brazil, who knows what the turnout will be at the Olympic Games this summer?