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ATHLETICS

Kenya fears Zika may put athletes at risk

The East African country is considering pulling out of this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro should the outbreak of the virus worsen.

Update:
Juluis Yego after winning gold at the World Championships javelin event in Beijing.

Kipchoge Keino, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) chairman, said the East African nation may consider pulling out of the competition should the disease reach epidemic levels.

We will wait until the last minute. We are relying on advice from health organisations in Rio, Brazil, to enable us make an informed decision”, Keino said, according to Kenya's Standard newspaper.

Head of Kenya's Olympics committee, Kipchoge Keino speaks during a Reuters interview inside his office in Nairobi
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Head of Kenya's Olympics committee, Kipchoge Keino speaks during a Reuters interview inside his office in NairobiTHOMAS MUKOYAREUTERS

If the Zika virus is serious, then we will not attend the games. We will not expose our youths. The health of our people is more important than the games... but if the Zika virus is not so dangerous, we will go”.

Kenya is famed for its athletes and marathon runners, topping the medal table in last year's world athletics championships in Beijing, taking seven golds, six silvers and three bronze medals.

A city worker in Recife, Brazil fumigates to eradicate the mosquito which transmits the Zika virus
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A city worker in Recife, Brazil fumigates to eradicate the mosquito which transmits the Zika virusMario TamaGetty Images

The Zika outbreak, a largely mosquito-borne virus believed to be linked to severe birth defects, has sparked fears of infections in Brazil, which will host the Olympics between 5-23 August.

If the Zika virus reaches "epidemic levels", Kenya could pull out of the Rio Olympicshttps://t.co/WX0NSkEH6a pic.twitter.com/NvVye9ErZR — BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 9, 2016

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