Sydney - Australia's
Olympians will be issued with free super-strength condoms in Rio to
minimise any infection from the Zika virus, officials said on 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.