By Sulayman Bah
Gambian athletes hoping to make the cut for this year’s Olympics in Brazil have been assured by Olympic Bureau President Momodou Dibba not to be fearful over the Zika virus in the host country, Brazil.
The news-making virus has been source of severe discomfort beginning last year. Immense fear began to spread after the epidemic, transmitted by daytime active Aedes mosquito, slalomed from the Pacific Ocean, cutting through the Caribbean Mexico, Central Americ to South America and wreaking havoc on Brazil, a country which would, if all goes as planned, host the Olympics in six months.
The virus, capable of infecting via mother-to-child transmission and also linked to triggering a mild form of dengue fever, has caused international outcry prompting a plethora of countries to consider imposing a travel ban on affected nations.
In Brazil –the soon-to-be Olympic hosts –, the outbreak has hit pandemic levels according to monitored reports. However, Olympic House boss Dibba this week moved swiftly to assure Olympic-hopeful Gambian athletes not let in any fears about the virus, divulging steps have been taken by concerned bodies to curb it.
‘We‘ve heard of the Zika virus and we are making arrangements with our partners,’ Dibba tells Foroyaa Sport.
‘There are agents who are working on this all over the world. It involves the Olympics… to make sure we have all the protective gears especially for the athletes. It’s a concern to the Gambia National Olympic Committee and the Olympic Movement as a whole. We are leaving no stones unturned (to combat it). I don’t think athletes need to worry in case of an infection or this epidemic both at the level of the IOC or at the level of ANOCA and at the level of the National Olympic committee. We are all working together. Agents are working to provide tents, space and mosquito nets to ensure all our athletes are in shape – be rest assured of that’ he says.
No cures yet found
While Dibba tries to calm fears, it’s though apparent that no cure or vaccines to repel any potential further outbreaks have yet been found. It is for such drawbacks that spurred the US government to issue alerts on travel guides including considering closing its frontiers to flights from zika virus affected countries.
Already, US’s Olympic committee has ordered its Rio-bound athlete team to pull out if they feel unsafe; a move that could potentially undermine the Games giving the US stars track records in previous events.
Fresh concerns began to grow over the epidemic after Brazil recently reported over thousand cases of birth defects linked to infection during pregnancy.
No cases have been mentioned in Africa but the continent is on the lookout giving it could be in for a huge representation when the Games start.
In Gambia though, hopes remain high with resources being pumped to ensure athletes reach the Olympic qualification mark. Majority of country’s track stars are in Senegalese capital in a bid to attain the aforesaid dream.
But Foroyaa Sport though understands, Adama Jammeh and co could be summoned back home to train in Banjul once the stadium renovation works finishes.