Kenya to pull out of Rio Olympics if Zika virus becomes ‘epidemic’
Kenya could pull out of this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro if Zika virus reaches “epidemic levels”.
The BBC and Guardian report that the chairman of Kenya’s National Olympics Committee President Kipchoge Keino has said the country would not risk sending its atheletes to Brazil for the games if the disease got out of hand.
“Obviously, we are not going to risk taking Kenyans there if this Zika virus reaches epidemic levels,” Kipchoge Keino said.
Kenya has some of the best middle and long-distance runners in the world, something that saw the country emerge top the medals table at the 2015 world athletics championships.
The world’s greatest sporting extravaganza will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5 to August 21, 2016.
According to the Pan-American Health Organization, 26 countries have confirmed Zika cases, spanning 7,000 kilometers (4,400 miles) from Mexico to Paraguay. No case has so far been reported in Africa.
President Barack Obama on Monday asked for more than Sh180 billion ($1.8 billion) in emergency funds to tackle the fast-spreading Zika virus in the United States and beyond.
The mosquito-borne illness has surged through Latin America, prompting fears that clement spring weather could bring a spate of cases north of the Rio Grande.
The virus has been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disease that can cause paralysis in humans.
It is mainly transmitted through mosquitoes although in at least one instance, in Dallas, the disease may have been transmitted sexually.