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Embratur releases official communication for travel and tour operator partners for 2016 Rio Olympics

Embratur (the Brazilian Tourism Board) reports that there is no discussion of the possibility to postpone or cancel the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. Embratur and other Brazilian government agencies are guided by the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), who stated in a speech on May 28th, that delaying the Games does not alter the spread of the virus, which is already circulating in 60 countries and territories. Therefore, there is no reason to change the Games in Rio.

The 2016 Olympics and Paralympics will take place with utmost attention given to the health of the participants and spectators of the biggest sporting event in the world. The Brazilian government, in constant contact with the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization, are taking all necessary measures to ensure the effective combat of mosquito outbreaks, with specific actions to the headquarters of the competition, Rio de Janeiro and the cities that will host football matches. Embratur reinforces that Brazil will do everything it can to ensure that the Games take place safely and peacefully, for athletes, technical staff and tourists.

Before the 2014 FIFA World Cup, researchers at the University of São Paulo predicted that only around three foreign tourists would contract dengue fever (transmitted by the same mosquito that spreads the Zika virus), among the 700 thousand visitors from other countries who visited Brazil during the competition. And the researchers were right: only three individuals were affected. In a similar study, the same researchers concluded that the possibilities of an international visitor contracting Zika at the Olympics are extremely rare. In addition, it is winter in Brazil during the Games, which is the time of year where mosquito-borne diseases are most infrequent.

Embratur’s estimate is that between 300 and 500 thousand international visitors will come to Brazil for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Data from the Statistical Yearbook of the Ministry of Tourism reveals that in 2015, 6.3 million visitors were in the country. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States, the number of American citizens that travel for the Olympics corresponds to 0.25% of the 40 million travellers to the 60 countries where Zika virus is present.

Preventive measures are still recommended to reduce the presence of mosquitoes that transmit the disease. Practical guidelines include: using mosquito repellents, keeping doors and windows closed or screened, wearing trousers and long sleeved shirts. WHO maintains its determination not to recommend restrictive measures for travel and international trade, with the exception to pregnant women, who are advised not to travel to areas affected by the outbreak of Zika.

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