Rio Olympics golf organisers have a new challenge preventing the spread of the zika virus. They are taking advice from the World Health Organisation on how to prevent golfers and spectators contracting the disease because there are two standing water hazards on the new course built by Gil Hanse and Amy Allcott.
The disease is carried by mosquitoes who gravitate to standing water. There are two hazards, the larger lake dissects holes 2,3 and 5 and a smaller one on hole 10. Althouh the disease is not life threatening it does cause birth defects. 1.5 million people have already been infected in Brazil and with 500,000 visitors expected for the Rio Olympics urgent action is being taken to educate players and spectators, offering mosquito repellent and introducing movement to the still ponds.
Golf returns to the Olympics after 112 years Aug 11-14 for the mens event and Aug 17-20 for the womens event. A test event will be played over the newly built course at Barra dia Tijuana next month.
The Major of Rio de Janiero, Edoardo Paes has said about the golf event: “In Brazil I dont think there will be much of a legacy, It is not a sport people in Brazil are interested in, its not a popular sport in Brazil”.
However, the Head of the Rio Olympic Games, Carlos Nuzman disagrees: “There could be a big legacy. There are a lot of young kids who will want to participate it’s a big chance for golf to be developed in this part of the world”.
Women professional golfers are concerned about the situation. LPGA Chief Executive Heather Daly Donofrio said they were closely monitoring the situation and working with the IGF. Lydia Ko, the World Number 1 player says that “nothing would prevent her from competing in the Olympic Games and there are some things we cant control and are out of our hands”. However Azahara Munoz says “I would go anyway but I hope they deal with the situation bcause it’s scary”.