News / Americas

    Mosquitoes, Not Security, Viewed as Big Rio Olympics Threat

    FILE - The Aedes Aegypti mosquito larvae are photographed at a laboratory of the Ministry of Health of El Salvador in San Salvador, Feb. 7, 2016.
    FILE - The Aedes Aegypti mosquito larvae are photographed at a laboratory of the Ministry of Health of El Salvador in San Salvador, Feb. 7, 2016.
    Reuters

    Zika, doping and venue problems dominated the opening day of the U.S. Olympic Committee's media summit on Monday as officials were pushed on athlete health and safety for this year's Rio Olympics.

    Unlike previous Olympics where high-level security issues dominated the buildup to a Games, it is the mosquito-borne Zika virus creating jitters with the Rio Summer Games only five months away.

    Not once during a 40-minute briefing were USOC chairman Larry Probst or CEO Scott Blackmun asked about security but they were bombarded by questions about what was being done to protect the 815 U.S. competitors at the Olympic and Paralympic Games from the Zika virus.

    Rio officials are also dealing with concerns over the polluted waters where the sailing competition will take place, construction delays at the cycling and athletic venues, slow ticket sales and a doping lab that is on the verge of being declared non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

    But in the United States, Zika is being viewed as the biggest threat for Rio-bound athletes.

    The U.S. Olympic Committee is taking steps to limit any risk but said it will leave the final decision on whether to travel to Brazil up to individual competitors.

    Equestrian Elizabeth "Beezie" Madden poses for photos at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit in Beverly Hills, California, March 7, 2016.
    Equestrian Elizabeth "Beezie" Madden poses for photos at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit in Beverly Hills, California, March 7, 2016.

    The virus, linked to a spike in the rare birth defect microcephaly, has hit Brazil hard and has spread through much of Latin America and the Caribbean, raising concerns for athletes planning to compete in Rio De Janeiro, particularly those thinking of having children after the Games.

    "It is going to be up to each individual athlete to make his or her decision," said Blackmun, adding that athletes will be given mosquito nets and bug spray while additional medical staff could be brought on to deal with concerns. "We don't want to be in the business of making health policy."

    The doping scandal that has left Russian track and field athletes in Olympic limbo was also being felt in Los Angeles, as American medal contenders wait to see if the drug-tainted nation will be allowed to take part in Rio.

    WADA said on Monday that it was dismayed by revelations in a German TV documentary that contained fresh allegations of malpractice in Russia's anti-doping system.

    Russia has been suspended from international track and field in the wake of a report exposing widespread cheating and corruption and has been ordered by world athletics' governing body, the International Association of Athletics' Federations (IAAF), and WADA, to show evidence of a change of culture and practice in fighting doping.

    The country, second only to the United States in the sport's pecking order, will be allowed to return to competition, including this year's Olympics only when it can prove that it has met a series of conditions regarding its anti-doping operation.

    "Things just continue to be uncovered ... I'm not totally confident," said Alysia Montano, an American middle distance runner who finished fifth at the London Olympics behind two Russian athletes facing doping bans. "I want to say, yes, it's going to be 100 percent clean but every time I try to say that, I just hope. My confidence is still a little thin."

    Casting another shadow over anti-doping efforts, the Brazil lab that will test athletes during this year's Olympics is in a race to fully conform to global regulations by a WADA-imposed March 18 deadline or have testing for the Games moved elsewhere at considerable cost.

    WADA stripped the $25 million Laboratorio Brasileiro de Controle de Dopagem of its accreditation in 2013 because it failed to meet required standards, re-instating it last year.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Kidnapped Mexican Football Star Rescued

    Alan Pulido was abducted by gunmen outside his home town of Ciudad Victoria as he left a party

    Hundreds of Thousands of Brazilians Hold Gay Rights Parade

    Gay rights advocates in Brazil are pushing the congress to pass a law allowing Brazilians to legally identify themselves as the gender of their choice

    Haiti Braces for Trouble as Election Panel Report Is Due

    Haitians are preparing for trouble as electoral verification commission is due to deliver results of its monthlong review of last year's contested presidential and legislative elections

    Brazil Launches Manhunt for Alleged Gang Rapists

    Police identifies four of 30 suspects who gang raped teenager and posted video online

    'El Chapo' Lawyers Split on Extradition Case

    Lawyers can't agree on staving off extradition to US

    Colombia Rebels Release Three Journalists

    All three, including a Spanish correspondent working on a story about coca growers, were released Friday