WHO: no point delaying or moving Olympics, Zika already rampant

Responding to a call from more than 100 leading scientists, who said it would be unethical for the Games to go ahead as scheduled, the United Nations health agency on Saturday (local time) said having the Games in Rio as planned would “not significantly alter” the spread of Zika, which is linked to serious birth defects.

“Based on the current assessment of Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the games,” the WHO said in a statement.

In a public letter posted online on Friday, around 150 leading public health experts, many of them bioethicists, said the risk of infection from the Zika virus was too high for the Games to go ahead safely.

The letter, sent to WHO director-general Margaret Chan, said the Games, due to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August, should be moved to another location or delayed.

“An unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic,” the letter said.

But the WHO rejected the call, saying Brazil “is one of almost 60 countries and territories” where Zika has been detected and that people continued to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons. Read more »

An Olympics without Russia? I have a better solution

Russia’s athletics team are not likely to be at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, according to European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen.

After doping allegations last month, Russia were suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and must fulfil a set of provisos in order to be reinstated in international competition.

“They must have a cultural change,” Hansen told Athletics Weekly magazine.

“They must get rid of all those people from before. We know some good people in Russian athletics and I’m sure they will be elected.

“We hope that some new people will come in who really understand that this must be changed.”

A committee from the IAAF will visit Russia in January and will report back to the IAAF Council in Wales on March 27, just over four months before the Rio Olympics.

Every four years, we have two Olympics:  the “normal” one, and the Paralympic one.  But the problem with doping is such that we need three Olympics (or perhaps four, if doping is rife in the Paralympics too). Read more »

International events in Muslim countries under a cloud

The women’s world squash championships in Malaysia have been called off, the tour’s governing body said, in another blow for the sport after the men’s team event in Cairo was cancelled for security reasons.

Plans for the women’s tournament had been dogged by confusion after a row erupted between the event’s promoters and Malaysian authorities over claims of funding problems and security threats.

An emailed announcement by the London-based Professional Squash Association (PSA) said the championships, which were set to begin on December 11 in Kuala Lumpur, “will not be staged in 2015 following notification from the tournament promoters”.

The announcement was dated December 5 but did not appear to have been posted on the PSA’s website or social media. Read more »


They should include this in the Olympics

(Totally G rated, for those immediately concerned what lies within)

Putting records in perspective – the 9 year old Olympic champion


Sir David Attenborough’s Alternative Curling Commentary

I figured out why the Sochi Winter Olympics are such an omnishables

Mikaela Boag

Mikaela Boag

They’ve got Boag consulting for them.

Never underestimate the underdog


It’s been a while since we’ve looked in on the Third Eagle of the Apocalypse

William Tapley is still going strong. This time he cautions us about the new Olympic mascots.


Da those Russians… such sense of humour

Most big project will have a scale model built first.  The Olympics in Russia are no different

The Olympics aren’t just about Sochi, and Sochi isn’t just about the Olympics, the Russians will tell you. It’s all part of a broader push to revitalize a region torn apart by an Islamic insurgency, which itself comes on the heels of two disastrous wars.

A couple of years ago, the Russian government decided that the North Caucasus would be the perfect place to develop ski resorts in the region as an answer to its high unemployment and other economic woes. Never mind the violence, they said, the beautiful mountains (and they are very, very beautiful) would attract tourists from all over the world, and would even compete with Swiss slopes.

Well, a couple weeks ago, at the Sochi 2013 investment forum, the local authorities presented a model of one such resort, called Lago-Naki. It looked like a very nice resort, equipped with wide slopes and modern cottages. (It’s especially nice when you don’t realize that there is no transport between Sochi and Lago-Naki, but that, even though the two spots aren’t very far apart, it takes eight hours to drive there)

Sounds all very sensible.  So where does the funny part come in?   Read more »