Nothing Can Stop the Rio Olympics, Not Even the Zika Virus

Should the Olympics proceed in Rio de Janeiro in August as planned?

With the lighting of the torch set to take place in less than three months, a handful of medical experts are calling for the games to be postponed or moved, citing the risk of globalizing a Zika epidemic that's been mostly limited to the Americas. Amir Attaran, a professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa, argued last week in the Harvard Public Health Review that the games “must not proceed.”

Among pregnant women, Zika can trigger severe birth defects that include microcephaly, when babies are born with abnormally small heads. It has also been linked to neurological disorders, including Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Attaran suggested that by August, the epidemic in Rio will be worse than currently predicted.

For Brazil, however, the postponement or cancellation of the Olympics may further destabilize the troubled nation. The country is in its deepest recession on record and consumed by a political crisis with the impeachment trial of President Dilma Rousseff. It is spending almost $10 billion to host the first Olympic Games in South America, money it can ill afford to waste. This is especially the case because it's unlikely that insurers would make anyone associated with the games whole over Zika-induced cancellation claims.

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