Zika virus
South Korea's National Olympics Committee said on Thursday that its athletes would wear long sleeves impregnated with mosquito repellant kits to protect them from the virus.In Picture: Representational Image.Reuters

Athletes from South Korea would wear long-sleeved uniforms infused with mosquito repellants to protect them from Zika virus during the inaugural and closing ceremonies at the Rio Olympics to be held in Zika-affected Brazil from August 5.

South Korea's National Olympics Committee said on Thursday that the training kits and uniforms of athletes, for the inaugural and closing ceremonies, would be infused with mosquito repellents and cover most parts of the body, the Agence France-Presse reported.

Brazil has reported over 91,000 Zika cases this year and nearly 7,150 babies were born with a central nervous system disorder called microcephaly, characterised by the presence of abnormally small-sized heads in babies, since 2007, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Zika is a vector-borne disease mainly carried by Female anopheles mosquito, although scientists are suspecting other methods of the virus transmission, including sexual relations and blood transfusion.

A South Korean Olympic Committee spokesperson was quoted by AFP as saying that the clothing athletes wear during games cannot be mosquito-proofed due to strict regulations. "But we will distribute mosquito-repellent sprays to the athletes and will also vaccinate them against other diseases that can be spread by mosquitoes just in case," she said. The committee would also train athletes on how to prevent mosquito bites.

The Zika virus outbreak in Brazil has alarmed many participating countries, including the U.S, Australia and Russia, who have asked their female athletes to consider taking part very carefully.

Russian and Australian officials have reportedly raised fears for women preparing to compete in the games this August, while numerous airlines around the world are offering pregnant women the chance to swap or refund their tickets to avoid travelling to the affected areas — of which Brazil is the worst.

One of the South Korea's top athletes, Ki Bo-Bae, who won individual and team women's archery golds at the London 2012 Game, said she was not worried about the Zika scare.

"I went to Brazil twice for training and people there didn't seem too concerned about it and the athletes didn't experience any discomfort. So no, I don't feel uneasy," Ki was quoted by the AFP as saying.