Credit: JL08/Flickr Creative Commons

Athletes Should Make Their Own Risk Calculations Before Competing In Rio, Says Security Expert Juliette Kayyem

June 8, 2016

Yesterday, television anchor Savannah Guthrie announced she will not be heading to Rio to cover the Olympic Games, citing fears over contracting the Zika virus while pregnant with her second child.

She's not alone. American cyclist Tejay van Garderen has also announced he will not be attending out of concern for Zika, and British long jumper Greg Rutherford says he will freeze his sperm in case he contracts the virus while competing.

But while health concerns are mounting, the International Olympic Committee has made no move to postpone the Games. Should they? 

"In an ideal world, Brazil would never have been chosen, [or] we would postpone it for a year given all the challenges in Brazil," said Juliette Kayyem, homeland security expert and host of the "Security Mom" podcast.

But, short of an announcement from the World Health Organization advocating that the Games be postponed, Kayyem sees no alternative for athletes other than to evaluate their own security risks—including future plans for pregnancy.

But she also acknowledges that many athletes will inevitably make their decision based on whether they will be able to compete in future Olympic Games. 

"I don't think you can say: we won't go to the Games, but the Games will go on," Kayyem said.

"I think that's unfair to the athletes," she continued.

To hear more from Juliette Kayyem, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.


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