The International Olympic Committee met on Wednesday (2 March) to discuss a series of concerns over the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that are scheduled to take place this August. The ongoing Zika virus outbreak featured on the agenda. It is estimated that up to 1.5 million people in Brazil have contracted the mosquito-borne virus, which is widely believed to cause brain abnormalities in babies, and health experts fear the surge of tourists during the Olympics would propel the spread.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention of the US has already taken an unprecedented step to advise pregnant women not to attend the Rio Olympics. This has led to worries that anxieties over the virus would worsen the Games’ dormant ticket sales. Only 47% of the 7.5 million tickets have been sold so far, but the organising committee is confident that there would be a late surge in ticket sales, especially in the domestic market across cities of Brazil.
However, as Brazil faces its worst recession since the 1930s, the organising committee has made substantial reductions to the Games budget in order to save $500 million. There have also been delays in construction projects, including a subway line that connects the Olympic Park with other parts of the city. Faced with a multitude of concerns, the President of the organising committee, Carlos Nuzman, dismissed the impact of budget cuts and delays, and promised that the Games would be “absolutely fantastic”.
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