Team USA women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo has been the object of scorn from Brazilian crowds for her views on the Zika virus.
RIO DE JANEIRO — For all the talk ahead of the Rio Olympics of the dreaded Z-word, for all the athletes (golfers, I’m looking at you) that didn’t come because of it, for all the supposed virus-carrying mosquitoes with ill intent, Zika — for the most part — has turned into the Games’ biggest non-story.
Pretty much the only time there has been mention of Zika sinc e the event began was from the lips of Brazilian fans, using it in chants to mock U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo and a beach volleyball duo for what is perceived here as overt scaremongering in North America.
Yet while athletes and fans alike have barely seen a mosquito in Rio, much less had chance to contract an illness from one, there is one Olympic venue where the insects of doom can still be found.
The famous Sambodromo, used each year for the wondrous celebration of Carnival and repurposed for the Olympic archery tournament, has been bugged (pun fully intended and hereby apologized for) … by bugs.
You can’t spot one during the morning sessions, and they’re rarer than a four-leaf clover during the early afternoon, especially when the breeze flutters pleasantly at a neat little venue that has so far seen disappointingly paltry crowds.
Yet when dusk descends the marauding midges start to attack, particularly on days of high heat and low wind.
“When it gets dark they start to come,” Brazilian archer Ane Marcelle Gomes dos Santos told USA TODAY Sports. “If you get bitten it is annoying.”
American archer Mackenzie Brown used a repellent device as part of her competition setup to keep the bugs at bay. The fiancée of Brady Ellison, from the American men’s team, decided to stay at home instead of travelling to Rio citing Zika concerns.
The U.S. team has agreed to take part in tests aiding Zika research and will undergo medical examinations after the competition.
On Saturday, the influx of mosquitoes was extraordinary. As South Korea celebrated its victory in the men’s team competition, athletes were swatting mosquitoes away from their faces as they stood atop the podium.
As darkness crept in, a Korean television reporter attempted to execute a live piece on camera, while an assistant just out of shot sprayed him with repellent as he spoke.
“I was here that night, it was crazy,” English fan Tim Pickens said. “It is better when it is cooler and windier, that keeps them away a bit more. But everyone starts to get a bit nervous when the sun starts to drop.”
So it transpired again on Monday as the mosquitoes came from nowhere just as the afternoon session was getting close to completion.
“Here they come,” a volunteer warned media members. Locals say the mosquitoes emanate from the nearby favelas that overlook the venue on three sides, and where there is less sophisticated sanitation than in more upscale parts of the city.
It was not a biblical swarm, but it was enough to convince some supporters to head toward the exit a few minutes earlier than planned. For the archers, exponents of a sport where nothing can be allowed to break your concentration, the concern was muted.
“It is not a problem for me,” French contender Jean-Charles Valladont said. “You hear so much about it before the Olympics. But I am a (keen) fisherman so I am used to these things and I don’t think it is something to be afraid of. It is a mosquito. It is not going to kill you.”
Ya Ping Shih, head coach of the Australia women’s team, admitted that her team had been warned against the presence of mosquitoes and taken appropriate steps.
“Yes, they are there at this stadium,” Shih said. “We prepare for it very well and we know what we are doing. We use a lot of repellent.”
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Source:: Google – Health]]>