Zika virus could prompt Kenya to withdraw from Summer Olympics

Concerns about the spread of the Zika virus in Brazil continue to cast a shadow over the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Kenyan officials have threatened to withdraw their team if they do not receive assurances that athletes will be safe from the mosquito-borne virus.

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"We are not going to risk taking Kenyans there if this Zika virus reaches epidemic levels," Kipchoge Keino, president of the country's Olympic committee, told Reuters.

Keino made his comments a day after U.S. Olympic Committee officials lashed back at a report that they had told American athletes to reconsider going to the Olympics, which are scheduled to begin Aug. 5.

“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,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said Monday.

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The outbreak of Zika -- which has been linked to birth defects -- represents an international emergency, the World Health Organization said last week. The illness has spread throughout the Americas.

Brazilian organizers have vowed to take precautionary measures such as increased public testing and targeting of mosquito breeding areas.


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