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Rio Olympics 'to go ahead' despite Zika virus outbreak

The Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will not be cancelled and the mosquito-borne virus will not affect the Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said.  Speaking in Los Angeles on Monday, IOC President Thomas Bach expressed confidence that there will be good conditions for athletes and spectators at the Rio Games in August, despite the explosive spread of the Zika virus across the Americas.

But President Dilma Rousseff's chief of staff, Jaques Wagner, has urged pregnant women to not travel to Brazil for the Olympics because of the risk posed by the virus.  "The risk, which I would say is serious, is for pregnant women. 

It is clearly not advisable for you to travel to the games because you don't want to take that risk," he said.  The unprecedented warning, issued just over six months from the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, came after the World Health Organization declared an emergency over the virus, suspected of causing microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, in babies.

No vaccine or treatment currently exists for the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the explosive spread of the Zika virus in the Americas is an "extraordinary event" that merits being declared an international emergency. 

The agency convened an emergency meeting of independent experts on Monday to assess the outbreak, after noting a link between Zika's arrival in Brazil last year and a surge in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads.

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