Updated 07:05 AM EST, Fri, Dec 14, 2018

Should the 2016 Olympics Change Locations Due to the Zika Virus Outbreak?

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The ongoing Zika epidemic in Latin America, most notably in Brazil, has put the overall success of the 2016 Rio Olympics in danger. Several nations have stated that they cannot force their athletes to participate in the Olympics if they choose not to go. Nonetheless, health and sports officials in Brazil have reiterated that Zika will not impede this year's Summer Games.

Reuters reported that athletes from New Zealand and Australia have already been warned of the possible dangers Zika could inflict on pregnant women.

The respective Olympic Committees of both nations have announced that they won't sanction athletes who choose not to go to Brazil for fear of Zika. A spokesperson for the Australian Olympic Committee said the organization will totally understand if an athlete would want to withdraw from the Sumer Games.

Brazilian sports minister George Hilton, in a statement shared to NY Daily News, said the country will not cancel nor move the event to another location. He assured the public that the Brazilian government is working closely with the International Olympic Committee to ensure the safety and security of all who will visit the country.

Hilton's comments echoed the sentiments of an IOC letter which was sent to national committees last month. The letter stated that the 2016 Rio Olympics is still in full swing and that IOC health officials are diligently monitoring reports about Zika.

Meanwhile, a representative from the United States Olympic Committee has shut down reports claiming the organization has advised its athletes to consider not participating in the Summer Games for risk of contracting the Zika virus, per ABC.

USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandunsky identified the source of the erroneous report as US Fencing president Donald Anthony Jr., who was quoted earlier this week saying American athletes should not be forced to go to Brazil if they don't want to.

"The reports that the USOC has advised U.S. athletes to reconsider competing in Rio due to the Zika virus are 100 percent inaccurate," Sandusky clarified. "Team USA looks forward to the Games and we did not, would not and will not prevent athletes from competing for their country should they qualify."

Sandusky told NBC News that USOC is closely following the situation in Brazil via constant correspondence with the IOC, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He added that the organization is vigorously keeping its athletes and other TEAM USA delegates up-to-date with the Zika situation.

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