Harvard Public Health Review: 2016 Rio Olympics Should Be Cancelled Due to Zika Virus

Photo Courtesy: JJ Harrison


Editorial Coverage Sponsored By FINIS

In the hardest hitting article yet regarding the potential of a Zika virus outbreak at the 2016 Rio Olympics Games, Amir Attaran of the Harvard Public Health Review calls for the cancellation of the entire 2016 Rio Olympic Games to protect the public health.

The article pulls no punches, coming out swinging with allegations that the Zika virus is impacting more people than just pregnant women.

Brazil’s Zika problem is inconveniently not ending. The outbreak that began in the country’s northeast has reached Rio de Janeiro, where it is flourishing. Clinical studies are also mounting that Zika infection is associated not just with pediatric microcephaly and brain damage, but also adult conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome[1] and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which are debilitating and sometimes fatal.

Simply put, Zika infection is more dangerous, and Brazil’s outbreak more extensive, than scientists reckoned a short time ago.  Which leads to a bitter truth: the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games must be postponed, moved, or both, as a precautionary concession.

The article goes on to state that there are five primary reasons why the Olympics in Rio should be canceled.

  1. Rio de Janeiro is more affected by Zika than anyone expected
  2. Although Zika virus was discovered nearly seventy years ago, the viral strain that recently entered Brazil is clearly new, different, and vastly more dangerous
  3. While Brazil’s Zika inevitably will spread globally — given enough time, viruses always do — it helps nobody to speed that up
  4. When (not if) the Games speed up Zika’s spread, the already-urgent job of inventing new technologies to stop it becomes harder
  5. Proceeding with the Games violates what the Olympics stand for. The International Olympic Committee writes that “Olympism seeks to create … social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles”

“Which leads to a simple question: But for the Games, would anyone recommend sending an extra half a million visitors into Brazil right now?  Of course not”

Full Harvard Public Health Review article.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Roland Raffin
7 years ago

And the crooked IOC passed on Chicago even after President Obama flew out to pitch it! First time ever for a sitting US President.
They get what they deserve!
It will be a complete mess in this third world country!

Jennifer Hooker Brinegar

Zika Virus and contaminated water at the open water swimming, kayak and rowing venues. It’s crazy!!!

Susy Heiman
7 years ago

So true, the games should be cancelled.

Matty Harmer
7 years ago

And just as I left the safety of my bunker after Ebola wiped out half the world’s population.

Cidinha Netto
7 years ago

I don’t understand why people are still going there.

Martin BC
7 years ago


Martin BC
7 years ago
Yousif Al Shamy
7 years ago

Opaaa Shehab Younis Eslam Refaie

Jodie House
7 years ago

Mackensey House

Jessica Greaux
7 years ago

Deirdre McLoughlin

Lyn Aboul Hassan
7 years ago

Fadia Tayfour

Fadia Tayfour
7 years ago

OMG I’ve been wondering abt that! I mean it’s a huge financial loss but what about the competing athletes and the crowds?

Lyn Aboul Hassan
7 years ago

Fadia Tayfour we gotta wait and see..

7 years ago

I fear for the athletes. I know they are striving to do their best, but the coaches and organizing committees are letting them go into too much danger. Polluted water, Zika, gang violence, poor construction of venues, no safe transportation, plus a government about to fall. Brazil is just not safe for the streets, and the IOC should have the guts to give back the sponsorship money and not allow US athletes to participate. Someone has to stand up for the athletes.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x