“We don’t have any confirmed cases of Zika amongst travelers or amongst, indeed, athletes,” said Peter Salama, the head of the WHO’s health emergency program, at a news conference in Geneva on Friday.
Salama expects similar conditions to remain during the Paralympics, which start on Sept. 7.
“We are optimistic that the same risk assessment will hold [for the Paralympics] and there will be little additional risks,” he said.
Other athletes, who ultimately decided to attend, also cited Zika as a concern. Among them was Hope Solo, who Brazilians taunted with a “Zika” chant after she made her concerns public.
Rio health officials, however, knew the risk was low ahead of the Games. Not only had the city eradicated many of the mosquitoes known to carry the virus that’s been linked to birth defects and other problems, but many had died or migrated naturally to other areas due to it being winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
While Brazil’s problem with Zika — at least for now — is relatively under control, the risk of catching the virus in other parts of the world is on the rise.
Zika is known to be in 70 countries, including the United States, where the first mosquito-transmitted cases of the diseases occurred in Florida in July.