Is a mosquito about to take down the Olympics?

Published: August 5, 2016

Discovery of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Brazil last year led to concern over the Games, which are expected to host 16,000 athletes and attract close to 600,000 visitors. PHOTO: AFP

With barely a couple days before one of the biggest sporting extravaganza kick-starting in Rio de Janeiro, the authorities are bracing themselves to counter a great foe. Ironically, this grandest of enemies comes in the smallest of packages.

I can’t help but quote a Bollywood veteran Nana Patekar here, who manages to sum up this whole situation so aptly,

“Sala ek machar aadmi ko hijda bana deta hay!”

A tiny mosquito is enough to make a man impotent.

So yeah, even if you don’t fully concur with this perceptive pearl of B-Town wisdom, point is, this pesky lil’ gnat is more than capable of rendering a fully functional human completely paralysed.

Discovery of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Brazil last year led to concern over the games, which are expected to host 16,000 athletes and attract close to 600,000 visitors.

The bug has been known to cause birth defects in babies of pregnant mothers infected by the germ.

Photo: Telegraph

There is always an inherent risk associated with mass gatherings of any sort and 2016 Olympics are no different. This might sound like a juicy plot for an epidemic thriller, but experts argue if medical officials in charge of the safety at the 2016 Games aren’t up to the challenge as they assume they are, then this untreatable viral pandemic has the potential to turn apocalyptic in no time.

If you are wondering who these good for nothing scaremongers are, please feel free to count Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of them.

“The rapidly evolving outbreak of Zika warns us that an old disease that slumbered for six decades in Africa and Asia can suddenly wake up on a new continent to cause a global health emergency,” she remarked.

So is Dr Chan right about the deadly repercussions or is she simply too old and senile for us to take her seriously. Well she has got a cohort in Dr Thomas Frieden, Director at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So far Brazil stands defiant against the cynics and the mosquitoes. The games’ spokesman Mario Andrada asserted that cancellation or postponement of Olympics “has never been mentioned. No way”.

The Brazilian government is trying to get the outbreak of the Zika virus under control ahead of the Games.
Photo: AP

He confidently added that,

“It’s impossible to do that. There is no reason to do that.”

However, what we do know is that a huge number of travellers during these huge sporting events engage in unprotected casual sex – a major reason for the transmission of the disease. And with Rio’s notoriety for a carnival-like atmosphere, this fornication fiesta can quickly turn into a cataclysmic calamity.

Athletes who pulled out over Zika fears

American cyclist Tejay van Garderen is among a handful of athletes outside of golf who also cited Zika as the reason behind not going to Rio.
Photo: Zimbio

‘I would like to play the Olympics, but the Zika virus, you know.’ – Vijay Singh – Golf (Fiji)
Photo: Twitter

Golf world number one Jason Day won’t be competing in Rio
Photo: AP

Golfer Rory McIlroy issued a statement announcing that he would make himself unavailable for selection due to health fears over the Zika virus. The Northern Irishman is planning to start a family with his fiancee, Erica Stoll, and worried about the links between Zika has and defects among newborns.
Photo: AFP

Basketball star Stephen Curry also decided to skip the games. He did not specifically cite Zika but noted “other factors” played a role in his decision.
Photo: Twitter

Athletes who are concerned about the pandemic.

Romania’s top tennis player Simona Halep could pull out of the Rio Olympics because she is “very worried” about the effects of the Zika virus.
Photo: Twitter

Among the athletes expressing concern is reigning heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Photo: AFP

The US team’s goalkeeper Hope Solo in February said that she would have not competed if the Olympic games had been held then.
Photo: Jen Fuller/Getty Images

British long jumper Greg Rutherford has frozen a sample of his sperm ahead of the Rio Olympics.
Photo: Twitter

Hassan Sardar

Hassan Sardar

The author is an aspiring filmmaker and a diehard Liverpool fan. He also teaches Screenwriting and Cinematography, and loves tattoos and flip-flops. He tweets as @CineSardar (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.