Add the Zika virus to the concerns plaguing the troubled Summer Olympic Games coming up in Rio de Janiero.
Female athletes have expressed their worries about competing in Brazil, where the Zika virus has been linked to as many as 4,000 birth defects. Women who may become pregnant have been advised to use extreme-caution in Zika-affected areas.
Women competitors often put their lives on hold for years to train for Olympic level competition, and begin families after the Games. "Is there a long-term impact to childbearing? If not, what's the medium and short-term impact," asked Glenn Merry, chief executive of US Rowing, in The Boston Globe. The virus is so new there are no good answers to these questions.
The assurances of the International Olympic Committee that Zika will not be an issue does not induce confidence. The IOC assured the world that Olympic organizers would remove the raw sewage from waters slated to host events before the Games began. That hasn't happened, leaving the IOC to pooh-pooh the dangers posed. No athlete, male or female, wants to fall overboard and risk contracting a wretched illness.
The summer Olympics were immediately controversial at home because of the millions of dollars spent building venues in a city and nation with a high rate of poverty and homelessness. While Boston wouldn't have had Rio's problems — the iconic "Dirty Water" was written about a much-different Charles River than today's — it is just as well that organizers abandoned their Summer Olympics bid in the face of opposition and a noticeable lack of enthusiasm.
The Olympics, in particular the large Summer Games, are a costly headache with many drawbacks, not all of which, like Zika, can be anticipated at the time a city wins its bid. Best to watch in one's living room, far away from Zika-carrying mosquitoes and sewage-tainted water.