برنامه کارنت مصاحبه ای با امیر عطاران استاد دانشگاه اتاوا در مورد بیماری پشه زیکا و درخواست تاخیر در المپیک برزیل
ایرکانیوز به نقل از کارنت – سی بی سی – 10 مه 2016- 21 اردی بهشت 95
Rio Olympics should be postponed or moved due to Zika: professor
U of Ottawa prof warns of Zika epidemic being spread by visitors to Brazil
Zika concerns prompt call to ‘postpone or move’ Rio Olympic Games
امیر عطاران استاد حقوق و پزشکی می گوید که بدلیل بیماری زیکا که سلامتی ورزشکاران را به خطر می اندازد باید المپیک ریو به عقب بیفتند ولی دو استاد دیگر می گویند بدلیل مسایل مالی اینکار شدنی نیست زیرا کمیته المپیک به حامیان برنامه و تلویزیونها قرارداد دارد و پول گرفته است .
Zika concerns prompt call to ‘postpone or move’ Rio Olympic Games
Local workers have been disinfecting the famous Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil since Jan. 2016, to fight against the Zika, Dengue and Chikunguna viruses. The carnival stadium Sambadrome will host the archery events during the Summer Olympic Games Rio 2016.
Local workers have been disinfecting the famous Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil since Jan. 2016, to fight against the Zika, Dengue and Chikunguna viruses. The carnival stadium Sambadrome will host the archery events during the Summer Olympic Games Rio 2016. (Marcelo Sayao/EPA)
Despite efforts to contain the spread of the Zika virus, the number of suspected cases in Rio de Janeiro is the highest of any state in Brazil. In February, the World Health Organization elevated the virus outbreak to a public health emergency.
Amir Attaran Quoteboard
For some Olympic athletes, the threat of Zika means weighing the glory of competition with the possible effects of a potentially harmful virus.
Earlier this year, U.S. soccer goalie Hope Solo said she is “scared” and had a lot of reservations about going to the Olympics. “There’s really no clear answers to it. If things stood as they are, I probably would not go,” Solo says.
It’s not only athletes considering pulling out of the Rio Games. Some public health specialists are calling for the Rio Games to be cancelled, postponed, or moved to another location.
Guests in this segment:
Amir Attaran, professor of law and public health at the University of Ottawa. His paper was published in the Harvard Public Health Review outlining the threat to global health if the Olympic Games continue as planned in Rio de Janeiro.
Kevin Wamsley, academic vice-president and provost at the St. Francis Xavier University and former director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at Western University.
Andrew Zimbalist, author of Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup and professor of economics at Smith College.
The Current asked the Canadian Olympic Committee to comment but no one was available for an interview. However, the COC sent a statement
It’s scary and I have a lot of reservations going to the Olympics. At some point I do want to start a family and I don’t want to be worried; I don’t want those anxieties; I don’t want those constant tests. I don’t want to risk the safety of a child, the health of a child. It’s just a scary time and there are really no clear answers to it.
LL: Now, since then, Ms. Solo has decided she will go to the Games, though not without significant worries about contracting the virus. It is not only athletes considering pulling out of the Rio Games, though. Some public health specialists are calling for the Rio Games to be cancelled, postponed, or moved to another location. Amir Attaran is a professor in the Faculty of Law and Public Health at the University of Ottawa. He’s just published a paper in The Harvard Public Health Review outlining the threat to global health if the Olympic Games continue as planned in Rio. Amir Attaran is in our Ottawa studio, hello.
AMIR ATTARAN: Good morning, Laura.
LL: Why do you think the Olympics in Rio should be cancelled?
AMIR ATTARAN: Well, the real question to ask is, why should they not be postponed or moved? I’m not advocating cancelling them. There is no need to cancel the Olympics. They are a wonderful event. I love them, many people love them, but the appropriate question is, is now the right time to send a half million visitors into Rio, into the heart of a disease outbreak that is very dangerous, for these Games, or would it be better to postpone the Games, get the disease under control first, or maybe, have the Games somewhere else.
LL: Frame the risk for me because as I understand it, the risk is only to pregnant women or those considering getting pregnant.
AMIR ATTARAN: No, that’s not right. There has been a lot of science done since the outbreak and some of the findings have been absolutely appalling. They’ve only come in the last few weeks, so for anyone who thinks that Zika is limited to babies, that’s not right. We have very good scientific evidence that the risk of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which affects adults, is a neurological disease, it can paralyze, it can give rise to various types of nerve damage, or it can even kill. The risk of Guillain-Barre disease has increased 60-fold with Zika infection. 60-fold. And that’s adults, that’s not just children, but of course, it is the children who are most affected. We now know, again from scientific studies only a couple of weeks old, that 29 percent of children who, in their mother’s womb, the mother becomes infected, will have birth defects.
LL: So how do you respond when Dr. Bob McCormack, who is the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Chief Medical Officer says the risks of Zika are minimal for those who are not pregnant and that 90 percent of those who are exposed experience no symptoms at all?
AMIR ATTARAN: Well, the doctor should go read The New England Journal of Medicine or The Lancet in the last few weeks. Those are the world’s top medical journals where you have the exact studies I’ve cited to you. The risk of microcephaly, the small head that these babies have, increases 23-to 53-fold. The risk of Guillain-Barre disease, 60-fold. Now, if the doctor cares to actually read the science, I’m sure he’s say something different, but what he said to you is simply not truthful and not honest.
LL: So you’re calling for a postponement, moving the Games. That’s doesn’t appear to be happening. Given that, what’s your advice to athletes and spectators who are planning to go?
AMIR ATTARAN: I don’t know that it’s not happening. The Olympics have been postponed in the past. They have been moved in the past, the World Cup, too, so we’re not to the point of saying that is not happening. I think what needs to be examined is how to turn this negative of Zika into a positive. We could have, instead of a disease catastrophe in Rio de Janeiro, we could have a very positive outcome. We could have the first ever global Olympics. Some of the sports could be moved to London, some could be moved to Beijing, others to Sydney, others to Athens. These are cities that have hosted recently, we could have a global Olympics. What’s not to like about that?
LL: We contacted Perdita Felicien, I’m sure you know her. She’s a former Canadian hurdler turned broadcaster, and I want you to listen to her reaction to your essay.
It is scary to know that you might get an infection in your body that infects your family and you know your unborn child. At the same time being an athlete myself, you trust your governing body, you trust the COC, you trust your handlers to keep you safe and protected. And if they say it is fine to go, you will go. And make no doubts about it, I have been through 3 Olympic cycles, every year before the Olympics, there is a thing, a shadow that is put against the Olympics and you are told it is unsafe, it’s dangerous you will be harmed. Whether its suicide bombers in Sochi or a security threat in the Athens Olympics, the venues won’t be ready in time, you are faced with these things as an athlete but you will still go because you have probably chalked up thousands of hours to be prepared, and to be distracted by those things is you not doing your job.
LL: She says it’s up to the COC to assess the risks. Risks like this have come up before.
AMIR ATTARAN: It’s up to the COC to assess medical risks? That’s a new one on me. I would rather follow the advice of the Centres for Disease Control in the United States, which has said consider postponing travel for work reasons. These Olympians are going to work, that’s what they are doing, and the advice of the authorities on the public health world is consider postponing it. Now if athletes want to look to the Olympic Committee, which is an obvious conflict of interest, they’re pocketing money from all the sponsors for these Games, if that’s where they want to get their medical advice, there is nothing I can about it, but it doesn’t seem very sensible.
LL: Is that what you would say this is about? Is that why there is a refusal, so far, to do anything you are calling for? You think it is about money?
AMIR ATTARAN: Of course it is. I mean, it’s a multi-billion dollar event, but what it should be about is, listen to these words carefully: Fetal Brain Disruption Sequence. That’s the medical condition that affects the infants in utero as they are being gestated because of Zika. Fetal Brain Disruption Sequence means that as a child is growing in the womb, the brain begins to die and collapse. The skull collapses inward. The skin however, on the scalp may continue to grow, and that’s why it’s floppy at birth. These are children who will never have a chance at a normal life, or for example, to be an Olympian, because they will have suffered this disease which is avoidable. But right now, Laura, as I speak to you, Rio is not at the fringes of Zika, it’s in the heart of Zika. There is no state in Brazil that has a higher number of Zika cases than Rio de Janeiro and looking at another insect-borne disease called Dengue Fever, it is up 600 percent—
LL: But the risk is supposed to be lessened because the Games are being held in their winter, so there wouldn’t be as much of an outbreak of mosquitoes carrying the virus.
AMIR ATTARAN: Lessen doesn’t mean it makes it safe. When you begin 2016 with mosquito-borne disease 600 percent above 2015, then sure, it can dip in winter, but it is dipping from something that is 600 percent as high. That doesn’t sound very good, does it?
LL: Amir Attaran, we will leave it there, thank you.
AMIR ATTARAN: Thank you very much, Laura.
LL: Professor Amir Attaran is from the University of Ottawa and he joined us from Ottawa. Worries over the Zika virus are just the latest in a long history of various concerns about safety and ethics at the Olympics, but relocating or cancelling the Games at this point would be unprecedented outside of war time. Kevin Wamsley is the former director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario. He joins us on the phone from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he is Academic Vice-President and Provost. Hello.
KEVIN WAMSLEY: Good morning.
LL: Now, you’ve had a chance to listen to Amir Attaran just now. What do you think of what he said? Should the Olympic Committee consider postponing or relocating the Games?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: Well, I think the IOC is a very practical organization, a very stubborn organization, historically. I have no basis to judge Professor Attaran’s arguments because I am not a health expert, however the practicality of it is, we would need another thousand voices like his to get the IOC’s attention at this point. Moving the Games just is not possible with two months left to go before they start.
LL: You also heard him level the accusation that the reason there is resistance, or outright denial of the need to move or postpone, is because of money. What do you say to that?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: I think that there would be a certain stubbornness associated with that. We’ve seen this historically. The country has been preparing for seven years for these Games, and they would be very reluctant to knock them off their four year cycle. The IOC is not ready for a global Olympics. That may be an event in the future, and I think that would be a great idea given the cost of hosting, but these are not practical solutions at this point.
LL: You seem to be accepting the fact that this about money?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: I think there are many things. It’s about politics and it’s about money, so I would say both. The IOC is interested in sustaining the organization and having its four year festival have as much impact on the world ideologically in a corporate sense, in terms of replicating the model into the future, and so, since the 1980s, the major decisions having to do with the Olympic Games have been about money.
LL: We’re not just talking about Zika now. There are other things going on in Brazil. There is political instability and just yesterday, Brazilian soccer great, Rivaldo, was telling tourists to stay away from Rio for the Olympics because of the danger of endemic violence. What responsibility do Olympic organizers bear for the safeguarding the health and safety of competing athletes and spectators?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: The IOC has been in this business since the Munich massacre of 1972, and Montreal saw the biggest security budget to date, in 1976. Since 9/11, they’ve created fortresses around the Olympic Games to protect both the spectators and the athletes. There have been significant security risks since 9/11 and most countries have spent more than a billion per Games to ensure the safety of the athletes. The United States itself spends another billion to protect its team. Security is not a new risk at the Olympic Games.
LL: And health?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: That’s a different story. The health question has not often been raised historically with respect to the Games, at all.
LL: Again, what is the responsibility for Olympic organizers with regard to health?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: I think if you had a pandemic issue at play, and I can’t speak to the magnitude of the Zika virus at this point, but once again, if you had several thousand physicians making declarations, then I think the IOC would have to listen a little more closely, but so far in the press, we don’t see an extremely compelling argument. I’m not disagreeing with Dr. Attaran’s argument, but it’s not getting a lot of press right now.
LL: Given what you say, do you think it is reasonable, and given what we know about the Zika virus, do you think it’s reasonable for an athlete to decline to compete out of concern for his or her health?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: Athletes have that choice to make at various times. When Beijing was awarded the Olympic Games for 2008, athletes asked themselves if human rights were an issue, and you know what? These athletes are in the business of training, it’s all that they do, and some of them have been training for eight, ten, twelve, years for an opportunity to compete, and it will take a lot—they put their bodies at risk in normal training procedures to the extreme that average people don’t understand, and so this is a group that is very committed to attending the Olympics. It would take something of great magnitude to prevent that.
LL: In Dr. Attaran’s essay, he also argued that proceeding with the Games would violate what the Olympics stand for. Do you think there is an ethical issue here?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: I think that the ethically based human spirit dimension, that’s been a house of cards from the outset. I don’t know. The Olympic Games have always been a political organization and commercialized series of events, always. There have always been serious issues with it, and so the IOC can proclaim what it wants, but on the ground, it doesn’t operate that way.
LL: When people talk about the ethics of the Olympics, are they being too idealistic? Is that not what the Olympics stand for? Did they ever stand for that?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: No, I don’t think so, but it’s been a very useful ideological tool to interest people in the Olympics and to try and make them something special, and that has works. It’s been used to distance the Olympic Games from the World Championships and other forms of competition. It’s been used to elevate the Games and it’s been a very successful strategy.
LL: What’s your bet on Rio? Is it going forward?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: It will go forward at this point.
LL: And what do you expect to happen there? Everything will go off without a hitch?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: Nothing ever goes off without a hitch, but this is fairly typical of the Olympic Games. There are security concerns, there is overspending, cities aren’t generally prepared to host, these are the common issues that go on and on, but when that 16 days happens, usually all of these issues fall by the wayside.
LL: Do you plan to go?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: No, I don’t.
LL: Would you go if you had the chance?
KEVIN WAMSLEY: [laughs] I don’t attend the Olympic Games, it’s better to watch from afar.
LL: [laughs] And maybe healthier. Kevin Wamsley, thank you.
KEVIN WAMSLEY: You’re welcome.
LL: Dr. Kevin Wamsley is the former director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario. He joins us on the phone from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The Current asked the Canadian Olympic Committee to comment, but no one was available for an interview, but the COC sent a letter saying the safety of athletes and coaches is a top priority and that quote, “Team Canada’s medical team is monitoring all health risks in and around Rio in anticipation of the upcoming Games, and is taking appropriate steps to ensure our athletes can compete without worries” unquote. Now, my next guest has been following the lead up to the Olympics closely. He says the Zika outbreak is just one of many serious problems plaguing the Rio Games. Andrew Zimbalist is the author of Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup. He’s also a Professor of Economics at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where we’ve reached him. Hello.
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: Good morning, Laura.
LL: What do make of the debate over whether the Rio Games should be relocated, postponed, cancelled altogether, due to global health concerns over the Zika virus?
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: Well, I guess I fall more in the camp of Kevin Wamsley than Professor Attaran. I’m not a biologist, I’m an economist and so I can’t fully assess all of the health risks, but I do find the argument Professor Attaran to be a bit alarmist. That said, I think there are many things going on in Rio right now which present problems and dangers to potential visitors. One of them you referenced, the soccer player Rivaldo, who was a star in the 2002 World Cup that Brazil won. I think he scored something like five goals in the World Cup. He’s a very well-known Brazilian, a great soccer star, and he’s urged people not to come. He says the crime levels are too high, it’s simply much too dangerous, a 16-year-old girl was shot down in the streets the other day, there were 320 people killed in Rio by the Rio police over the last year because the economy is going downhill and the political situation is terribly unstable, and the crime levels are just going higher and higher. I think that that is a very serious concern for travelers, and on a more mundane level, there have been reports that hotel prices are three times normal, at least that is what they are asking during the 17 days in August during the Games. There are many, many other problems we could talk about, so [chuckles] I think there are lots of good reasons to stay away, unless you have urgent business during August.
LL: But even so, you doubt there would be any move to actually do something to cancel, postpone, or move?
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: It’s very unlikely. What Kevin Wamsley said is absolutely correct. The IOC is a mega-business operation, they have commitments to sponsors that are worth billions of dollars, they have a commitment to TV networks around the world, the largest one being NBC in the United States, they have spent $1.23 billion to broadcast the Games back to the United States. They’ve already sent their anchor, Bob Costas, down to assess and prepare the broadcast. They’ve sent technicians down to all of the 30-plus venues to make sure everything is lined up technically to broadcast the Games. In addition to paying the rights fees, NBC has put a lot of money and strategy into it, and they have sold advertising to US companies for the Games. They have dozens, if not hundreds and hundreds of hours of airtime—
LL: And to be fair, and in the interest of full disclosure, CBC also has broadcast rights to the Olympic Games in Rio, and so has invested money as well.
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: Practically each country in each region of the world has their own network that has made similar arrangements.
LL: So beyond the networks, what would be the total financial cost of postponing, relocating or cancelling?
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: Well, the cost to whom? Everybody has their own stake here, so I’m not sure what you mean. The total revenue that is generated by the Summer Olympics, counting the ticket sales, all sponsorships, all memorabilia, is on the order of $4 – $4.5 billion. Rio itself, if you include all of the infrastructure investments, along with the venue investments and operational expenditures, they’ve spent, by some estimates, close to $39 billion to host the Games. Rio, I think, would be hit hard by this. It’s going to be hit hard one way or another because even if they do have the Games, the level of visitors and tourists is going to be way down. By the way, tourism is always down. Not always, but almost always down when you host the Olympics, even if there aren’t alarmist scares out there. London had tourism drop six percent during the month of the Olympics. Beijing had a drop of over 20 percent during the month because normal tourists stay away. They don’t want to deal with congestion, high prices, possible security incidents, so it’s going to be that much worse for Rio. The largest cost is not to NBC, not to the sponsors, but to Rio and Brazil.
LL: And the people who live there. We are moving into a broader discussion about what are the benefits of hosting an Olympic Games. Has there ever been a case where a host country ended up with long term economic benefits?
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: I think you can make that argument in at least two cases. One of them is Los Angeles in 1984. That’s an interesting case because it followed the Olympics that have already been referenced in Munich. 1968 Mexico City was also a very ugly Olympic Games, and then in 1976 Montreal, which I’m sure your listeners know all about, Montreal had a cost overrun of ten times the initial budget, and they lost over a billion dollars. So, what happened was when 1978 came along and the IOC wanted bidders for the 1984 Olympics, there was only one city that was bidding and that was Los Angeles. So LA had all the bargaining power and the IOC did not have its traditional leverage and Los Angeles said to the IOC, we’ll do this on a couple of conditions. Condition number one is that we are not going to take financial responsibility for cost overruns and revenue shortfalls, you have to provide the financial backstop. The IOC didn’t have a choice, and they said okay. They never did that before and they haven’t done it since. Los Angeles also said to the IOC, you have to let us use the Memorial Coliseum from 1932, we’re not going to build another stadium. IOC said okay. Los Angeles also said you have to let us use the dormitories that UCLA and USC use instead of building an Olympic Village. For those reasons, and the venues were virtually already in place, they spent very, very little and it worked out very well. Peter Uerberoth innovated the sponsorship models, and they ended up with a $200 million dollar surplus. Los Angeles 1984 was a successful case.
LL: [laughs] And very exceptional.
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: Very exceptional. Nobody can reproduce that.
LL: Since then we have seen the creature evolve, particularly at Atlanta in 1996 when we began to see this huge wave of corporate sponsorships move in. Has all that made it impossible now to actually call down any Olympic Games?
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: I think so. I think that the notion that Professor Attaran put out, which is to have a global Olympics, and he said what’s not to like about it? Well, what’s not to like is that the carbon footprint will be a lot higher if people are flying around to different cities, and at least the pretense of unity, togetherness, and international community that gets engendered when you have an Olympic Village; when you have 12,000 athletes plus a couple thousand trainers and coaches all staying in the same place, that sense of community, that sense of engendering world understanding and peace, that goes out the window. The fundamental mantra of the IOC I think is surrendered in that case. I don’t think the idea of 35 venues, you have 35 different countries hosting the events makes any sense whatsoever. It’s certainly not something that the international broadcasters or sponsors are going to go for.
LL: Andrew Zimbalist, thank you. Bye bye. Andrew Zimbalist is the author of Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup. He is also a Professor of Economics at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusettes. Now we want to hear from you. Do you think it safe for Canadian athletes to compete in Rio? Let us know. Tweet us @the currentCBC, or me @lauralynchCBC. Email us by clicking on the contact link at cbc.ca/thecurrent. That is today’s edition of The Current. Anna Maria Tremonti will be back tomorrow. I am Laura Lynch sitting in for Anna Maria Tremonti and thank you for listening.
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