The Zika Virus is a very real dangerous threat, and many people involved in the Olympics are seriously second-guessing whether or not they should attend – including employees of NBC, the network which broadcasts the Games.
“It’s very simple,” one staffer told Don Kaplan of the New York Daily News. “I have a family. I have small children and for me, at least, the trip seems too risky. I might want to get pregnant soon.”
NBC is sending approximately 2000 employees to Rio de Janeiro, including high profile hosts like Matt Lauer, Meredith Viera and Savannah Guthrie. It’s difficult to know how many employees declined the opportunity to go.
Zika is the mosquito-borne virus linked to severe birth defects like microcephaly and possible neurological problems such as Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults.
It’s so serious that even athletes such as NBA All-Star and Spanish national team member Pau Gasol are considering skipping the Olympics.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see some athletes deciding not to participate in the games to avoid putting their health and the health of their families at risk,” Gasol told the Wall Street Journal.
It’s easier for Pau Gasol to decline participating in the Olympics; he collects a regular NBA paycheck. But what about the other athletes? Gawker points out that Brazil has severely polluted waterways, meaning sailors and open-water swimmers would essentially be competing in sewage-infested waters. But this is their main event – they don’t have next year’s NBA season like Gasol does.
“I strongly believe that no athlete should be put into this position — to decide between your Olympic dreams and your own health,” US Soccer goal keeper Hope Solo told the Daily News.
And let’s go back to the broadcasters for a second. This is a big moment for them too. An opportunity to leverage their careers and visit a new country is one best not missed. Lots of people are contemplating their dreams over their health, which will unfortunately be the major storyline of this years Olympics.