The President of Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, has reassured the country’s contingent to Brazil for the Rio Olympics that the Zika virus scare “is under control”.
Spain’s most famous basketball player, NBA’s Pau Gasol, had expressed concerns about the mosquito-borne virus several weeks ago, but had since committed to playing for the national team.
Blanco, who has been at the helm of the committee since 2005, said that the body had been hard at work to ensure that the athletes were cared for and well informed.
“It’s under control. We are going to be the best Olympic Committee without a doubt,’’ Blanco said when asked about the Zika virus.
“We have help from the Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal) in Barcelona. We will monitor our athletes individually with a mobile application.”
He said that 304 competitors were scheduled to compete for Spain in the fiesta.
“In Beijing, we had 280 and in London, 282. This is a success.
“We have to take into account that there are two new sports, golf and also rugby, in which we have managed to qualify the men and the women’s teams.
“We have 162 men and 142 women. We are very close to the parity that COI says,” Blanco said.
Spain won 17 medals in London four years ago, one less than at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“We expect good results but I don’t want to be too optimistic,” he said.
Brazil is suffering a recession and high crime rates; infrastructure delays and political unrest have raised questions about how successful the Rio Games will be.
“In the end, the Games will be great. The Olympic village is beautiful and the athletes will be very well looked after,’’ Blanco stated. (Reuters/NAN)