Thu | Aug 17, 2017

The Wright View | Cause for concern

Published:Tuesday | May 31, 2016 | 5:00 AM
Bolt
Fraser-Pryce
1
2

Jamaica's Olympic Games preparation seem to be on track for the predicted record medal haul wished for by every Jamaican, whether a fan of sports or not.

One noted track and field expert from the western end of the island has predicted a record haul, based on his assessment of the historic skill of Jamaican athletes and the pace of their preparation as August approaches.

We have qualified locally based competitors as well as some 'plastic' Jamaicans, who will wear our colours, hopefully, with distinction, win or lose. But (and this is a big BUT) things do not seem to be going as planned/hoped.

Track and field is the area of the Olympics where we expect to get most, if not all, of the medals projected. I am very worried about the pre-Olympic form of our two 'certain' gold medals, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the real big man, Usain Bolt.

History will remind us that our soon-to-be national heroes have mined gold in the past, despite less-than-ideal pre-Games form. But this year, my impression is that the rest of the world (read Americans) are showing better form than they have in previous Championship years.

However, I am reminded that our coaches (track and field) are justifiably rated as the best in the world, so fret not. They should deliver (fingers crossed).

The recent letter from 150 doctors requesting the organisers of the Rio Olympics to either postpone the Games or to change the venue, has stirred up the proverbial 'ants nest'.

The doctors worry about the prospect of having 500,000 people from every country in the world arriving in Brazil where Zika is endemic, keeping them there (exposed to the mosquito vectors) for two weeks, then sending them back to their home country where, in many cases, Zika is unknown.

The 150 doctors also reminded the organisers of the danger to pregnant women caused by the now well-established association of microcephaly in children born to mothers who contracted Zika while pregnant.

The twist to their warning comes, however, with the recently diagnosed Guillian Barre-type paralysis seen in some Zika sufferers.

That new association is a real 'attention grabber' and downplaying its significance will not sit well with any athlete or fan who attends the Rio Olympics and ends up paralysed.

The World Health Organization has pooh-poohed the call for a postponement of the Games or for a change in venue and their position has been bolstered by Britain's leading expert on the Zika virus, Professor Jeremy Farrar, who has stated that "such a move would be disruptive and completely unnecessary".

Argument Done?

I think not. I do believe that to ask athletes who have trained hard and sacrificed much in order to compete at this year's Olympics is unfair and unrealistic.

However, to expect half of a million supporters and fans to go to Rio where the disease is endemic, keep them there for two weeks then send them back to their country of origin without expecting an increase in Zika cases is 'stretching it'.

My advice to those non-athletes who had thought of going to Rio?

Rethink.

Arrange a comfortable television room and invite friends for a good time when your favourite event is on.

The risk is just too great to justify a visit.