150 experts say Olympics must be moved or postponed because of Zika image

Washington Post, May 27, 2016
Featuring I. Glenn Cohen (Faculty Director) and Holly Fernandez Lynch (Executive Director)

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More than 100 prominent physicians, bioethicists and scientists from around the world posted a letter Friday urging WHO Director-General Margaret Chan to exert pressure on Olympic authorities to move the Olympics from Rio de Janeiro or delay the games because of public health concerns over the Zika virus.

Brazil, which is hosting the Olympics and the Paralympics, is at the epicenter of the rapidly evolving mosquito-borne epidemic.

The letter is signed by 150 individuals from more than a dozen countries, including Brazil, Japan, Israel, Russia, Sweden, South Africa and the United States. It calls on the WHO to convene an independent group to advise it and the International Olympic Committee, and for authorities to reconsider the decision to hold the Games in Rio.

"We are doing it to ask for an open, transparent discussion of the risks of holding the Olympics as planned in Brazil," said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University and one of the letter's four authors, in an email explaining the reasoning behind the letter.

The group of scientists is not seeking "general assurance" from the WHO, Caplan said. Instead, they want "a frank discussion among independent experts," he said.

"If Rio is going to happen, the world deserves a full discussion of why and at what potential risks and liabilities," Caplan said. [...]

bioethics global health holly fernandez lynch i. glenn cohen infectious diseases international public health