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IOC issues Zika guidelines as price tag rises for Rio 2016

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued guidance to National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and sports federations concerning the Zika virus affecting 2016 Olympic Games host nation Brazil, while it has been disclosed that the price tag for Rio de Janeiro’s event has risen by R$400m (€90.3m/$97.8m) since August.

Rio 2016 last week said Olympic and Paralympic venues will be inspected on a daily basis during this year’s Games in an effort to prevent the spread of the mosquito-borne virus which is linked to a rare birth defect and a condition that can cause paralysis.

The IOC has now offered advice to minimise the risk of infection from the virus, which is spreading rapidly across South and Central America, and said travellers to Brazil should consult their national health authorities. Recommendations include using mosquito repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers. Women who may be pregnant have been urged to discuss trips with their health care provider.

“The IOC remains in close contact with the WHO (World Health Organisation) to ensure that we have access to the most up-to-date information and guidance, from now through to Games time,” the IOC's medical commission said, according to the Reuters news agency. “At the same time, National Olympic Committees should consult with their national health authorities to get advice and guidance.”

There is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika, with 10,000 athletes alone set to descend on Rio for the August 5-21 Games. The IOC added: “A plan has already been put in place for the Games venues in the lead-up to and at Games time, which will see them inspected on a daily basis in order to ensure that any puddles of stagnant water – where the mosquitoes breed – are removed, therefore minimising the risk of athletes and visitors coming into contact with mosquitoes.

“Rio 2016 will also continue to follow the virus prevention and control measures provided by the authorities, and will provide the relevant guidance to Games athletes and visitors. We remain confident that there will be a safe environment for successful and enjoyable Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.”

Rio 2016 has pointed to the fact the Games will be staged in Brazil’s winter, when the climate is cooler and drier, resulting in a smaller mosquito population. Games spokesman Mario Andrada maintained that no one is publicly talking about cancelling or postponing the Games. “This has never been mentioned. No way,” Andrada said, according to the Associated Press news agency. “It's impossible to do that. There is no reason to do that.”

Meanwhile, the projected total cost for the Games, including large infrastructure projects, now stands at R$39.1bn, about one per cent more than was forecast six months ago. The rise has been attributed to the costs of supplying temporary power and seating at venues.

Marcelo Pedroso, president of the Public Olympic Authority (APO), which is monitoring spending for Rio 2016, said the cost of supplying temporary power at venues alone accounted for an additional R$290m and will be paid for by the federal government.