Rio Olympics: No Zika fears for top Irish women athletes

Katie Taylor, Chloe Magee and Ciara Mageean set to travel despite infection scare

Irish Olympic athletes Ellis O’Reilly, Ciara Mageean, Katie Taylor and Chloe Magee during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin on Tuesday: They are unfazed about the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Photograph: PA

Irish Olympic athletes Ellis O’Reilly, Ciara Mageean, Katie Taylor and Chloe Magee during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin on Tuesday: They are unfazed about the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Photograph: PA

 

Three of Ireland’s top female athletes say they have no concerns about possible infection by the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Rio.

Olympic lightweight champion Katie Taylor along with badminton’s Chloe Magee and athlete Ciara Mageean, who are all participating in this summer’s games will travel as long as medical opinion from the Olympic Council and their own sporting bodies tell them it is safe to do so.

Less than two weeks ago 100 scientists and experts from around the globe warned it would be unethical for the International Olympic Committee to allow the Olympics to go ahead in Rio because of the possibility of infection. They urged the United Nations World Health Organisation to postpone or delay the Games.

“It’s not something I’ve thought about at all,” said London 2012 boxing gold medallist Taylor speaking at the launch of the Irish Olympic team’s partnership with New Balance.

Health issues

As well as the athletes, more than 500,000 tourists are expected to attend the Olympics, which take place from August 5th-21st.

The scientists cited previous sports events that were moved due to health issues including Major League Baseball for Zika and the Africa Cup of Nations for an Ebola outbreak.

A two-game baseball series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins, which was due to take place last month in Puerto Rico was changed to Miami because of player concerns over the virus.

“I think it is something everybody has been talking about but we have been well briefed by the doctors,” said Magee.

“I fully trust them that they have given us the information and I believe what they are telling us is right. They won’t let us go if it is too dangerous . . .

Taken it seriously

“I just don’t think they would have an Olympics there if there were that many bad outcomes from this virus. I don’t think they would risk their athlete’s health.”

In April 2016 scientists confirmed Zika can cause microcephaly, where babies are born with small heads and brains as well as other foetal brain defects.

Babies whose mothers are infected with Zika run a higher risk of this occurring.

“To be honest we have had all our briefing with the medical council and we are in contact with our own sports body Athletics Ireland and they are constantly giving us updates,” said Mageean.

“I am not concerning myself a huge deal with being worried about all of the hype. You take all the precautions to stay fit and healthy. Going out to Brazil, our health is out life but no I’m not all that stressed about the Zika virus.

“I’m very confident that the Olympic Council and our own sporting body won’t send their athletes where they are at risk. I place my faith in them.”

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