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Decision To Hold Olympic Games Must Consider Public Health Risks, Ethics

Project Syndicate: Should the World Go to Rio?
Peter Singer, professor at Princeton University and laureate professor at the University of Melbourne

“…If the Olympics go ahead, visitors will come to Brazil from many more countries than would otherwise be the case. If they bring Zika back to regions with Aedes aegypti and inadequate health care systems … millions of infections could occur before effective means of prevention or cure are developed. The WHO has said that canceling the Olympic Games would ‘compromise the huge investment that athletes and others have made in preparing for what should be a fantastic occasion.’ No doubt it would, but that needs to be balanced against the risks of spreading a dangerous virus. The Olympic Charter asserts that social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles are at the core of the Olympic movement. It is neither socially responsible nor ethical to ignore the risks that the Zika virus poses to adults and to children yet to be born. Perhaps the risks are low enough to justify going ahead with the Rio Olympics (which in any case could be postponed rather than canceled), but perhaps they are not. Until qualified experts have laid out all the facts, the world should stay away” (6/6).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.