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DOSB monitoring Zika situation ahead of Rio Games with concern

Europe
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Dusseldorf (dpa) - German sports officials are closely monitoring the explosive spread of the Zika virus ahead of the Rio Olympics in August and not ruling out relocating pre-Games training camps.

"We are looking at it with concern," Dirk Schimmelpfennig, high-performance sport executive at the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) told dpa on Tuesday.

He said the DOSB will work closely together with the sports federations to determine whether pre-Olympic training camps have to be relocated, saying "everyone knows about the responsibility for his athletes, coaches and officials."

The statements, made at a sports business conference in Dusseldorf, came the day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency over the virus which is spread by mosquitoes.

Brazil could have seen 1.5 million Zika cases and the number of cases in the Americas could grow to 4 million within 12 months, according to the WHO.

In Brazil there have been 3,448 suspected cases of microcephaly - a congenital condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads - and so far 270 of them have been confirmed. Six cases have been connected with the Zika virus which is thought to cause birth defects through mother-to-child transmission.

The declaration by the WHO clears the way for Brazil, the country most affected by Zika, to receive international assistance to counter the outbreak of the virus.

The WHO did not issue travel restrictions while Brazilian authorities said that pregnant woman should stay away from the August 5-21 Games.

Brazilian officials and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach welcomed the WHO decision and expressed confidence, among other reasons because the Olympics are in the Brazilian winter which is not the preferred breeding time for the mosquitoes.

"We need to look at it closely. So far it is only focussed on pregnant women. We will inform and prepare our athletes in order to minimise the risks," Schimmelpfennig said.

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