A letter directed to the WHO with over 100 signatures from medical experts from around the globe is calling for a delay or relocation of the 2016 Olympic games due to the Zika virus. Citing serious consequences - not just for the athletes and spectators intending to travel to Rio - but also for any countries that may experience outbreaks from these many individuals returning home afterwards, the pressure is clearly mounting for Olympic officials and now also for the WHO.
The next few weeks and months will only lead to more uncertainty and unwanted stress for athletes and officials unless a clear decision is made very soon, but what is the right one?
Our greater concern is for global health. The Brazilian strain of Zika virus harms health in ways that science has not observed before. An unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic. Should that happen to poor, as-yet unaffected places (e.g., most of South Asia and Africa) the suffering can be great. It is unethical to run the risk, just for Games that could proceed anyway, if postponed and/or moved.