Brazil Olympics Zika
The Rio Olympics Games will go ahead in Brazil despite the Zika virus outbreak. In picture: A general view of the swimming pool of Pinheiros club, where the Chinese Olympic team will be training before the Rio Olympics, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, February 1, 2016.Reuters

The International Olympic Committee has said it will go ahead with the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics Games in Rio de Janeiro despite the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil. The Brazilian government has advised only pregnant women to stay away from the sporting event.

On Monday, the World Health Organisation declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency, as the mosquito-borne virus spread to more than 20 countries. 

Concerns have grown over the Rio Olympics, which is scheduled to be held from 5-21 August, but the organisers have said that there will be a "good condition" for athletes and spectators, according to AFP

"We see that the Olympic Games will be taking place in the winter time which is not the preferred breeding time for the mosquitoes," International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said. 

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's chief of staff Jaques Wagne said that "no one needs to be afraid if you are not pregnant".

The Zika virus is being linked to the spurt in cases of microcephaly -- a condition that results in infants being born with birth defects such as small heads due to partially developed brains. 

Brazil alone has seen 4,000 cases of microcephaly since last year. 

While the World Health Organisation believes the cases of microcephaly to be linked to the Zika virus an "extraordinary event", it said there was "no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of the virus".

The organisers for the Rio Olympics have said that they are working with Brazil's health ministry in minimising risks of the virus spreading. 

"The Olympic and Paralympic venues will be inspected on a daily basis during the Rio 2016 Games to ensure there are no puddles of stagnant water and therefore minimise the risk of coming into contact with mosquitoes," Phil Wilkinson, the spokesperson for the Rio Olympic Games, had told CNN

Brazilian researchers have claimed that the Zika virus most likely came to Brazil during major sporting events, including the 2014 football World Cup

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