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Weighing the risks of attending the 2016 Rio Olympic Games




Team members of Germany's Women's Eight look dejected after missing the qualification for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.
Team members of Germany's Women's Eight look dejected after missing the qualification for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.
Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

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The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer may be stifling athletes and attendees’ excitement with worry.

Open water swimmers, canoers and rowers will have to compete in water with floating debris and raw sewage. For Olympians and their supporters in Rio, summer heat and humidity may mean more exposure to mosquitos and higher chances of picking up the Zika virus.

But ticket sales are up for the 2016 games, which begin on August 6. That means people aren’t necessarily hindered by headlines of polluted water and Zika. And there’s little chance that athletes working to make it to the Olympics will forfeit their opportunity to compete because of a waterborne illness.

So what health risks should athletes consider going into the games? What is the likelihood of waterborne illnesses for those competing in contaminated water? Which precautions can people take to guard against the Zika virus?

Guests:  

Ed Hula, editor-in-chief of Around The Rings, a publication devoted to covering the Olympic Games

Kristina Mena, U.S. expert in risk assessment for waterborne viruses at the University of Texas

William Schaffner, MD, Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN