Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s Olympians will be issued with free super-strength condoms in Rio to minimise any infection from the Zika virus, officials said Monday.
Brazil has been the epicentre of the outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease, which is blamed for birth defects in babies born to women infected with the virus.
While condoms will be available in dispensing machines in the Olympic village, Australia is taking no chances, providing extra protection by supplying their own extra-strong variety “for peace of mind”.
They have teamed up with manufacturer Starpharma, which says its condoms contain a lubricant that protects against sexually-transmitted diseases and has “near-complete anti-viral protection against Zika virus in laboratory studies”.
“The health and well-being of the team comes first,” said the Olympic team’s chef de mission Kitty Chiller.
“Our association with Starpharma will provide extra protection for everyone on the team, and is a commonsense approach to a very serious problem we are facing in Rio.”
There has been widespread anxiety globally surrounding the threat of Zika, which is rampant in Brazil.
As well as causing the birth defect microcephaly in babies born to women infected with the virus, it has also been linked to the rare but serious neurological disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Last week, the World Health Organisation advised pregnant women not to travel to Rio and urged athletes and visitors to take precautions to avoid infection by Zika.