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Zika Virus: What Price Sports?


We have long treasured our accomplishments of civilization, as we should. Some of the most treasured include our periodic get-togethers as a world community to celebrate our greatest athletes, as with the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics, and the World Cup in football.

But there are times when it is not wise to gather folks together, have them mix around for awhile, and then send them all back home. Here are some examples of times that isolation and quarantine may have served to protect humanity. But, whether rightly or wrongly, whether knowledgeably or ignorantly, is still up for debate in many quarantine cases even to this day.

And we DO still debate these issues. The H1N1 influenza, H5N1 influenza, and Ebola have all caused raging debates about how to deal with travelers in the era of pretty much unrestricted worldwide air travel. Some have carried infections across the seas without knowing that they did so, some have not carried infections but have been ostracized and demeaned out of fear because they might have, and now we face even more threats that make the discussion of how to deal with potentially infected travelers even more critical.

The Zika virus is a threat that has joined that debate. We've discussed the Zika virus many times before:

So now we as a civilization have to deal with the upcoming Summer Olympics. Brazil, the host nation, is in the throes of dealing with the Zika virus. Tens, and maybe hundreds of thousands of athletes and fans will descend on the area, and do what humans do -- they will socialize, have sex, socialize some more, have sex some more, and then return home.

And what they return home with, may in many cases, be extremely dangerous.

So we as a civilization have a decision to make. Because of the quality and quantity of information available to us, it's frankly unlike every decision that we've ever made, and in simplest terms it can be stated like this:

Should we cancel the Summer Olympics due to the threat of the Zika virus?
Should we prioritize the value of human interaction in sports above that of potential disease impacts?

There are opinions on both sides of the issue.

Hold the Olympics.
Cancel the Olympics.

My assessment is that we will hold the Olympics; there will be a much-diminished presence of the world community due to fear; and that the cloud of Zika will persist for years to come.

What do you think?

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.