SEOUL: South Korean athletes at the Rio Olympics will wear long-sleeved kit impregnated with mosquito repellant to protect them from the Zika virus, the national Olympic committee said Thursday.
Brazil epicentre of the mosquito-borne Zika virus outbreak, which is blamed for birth defects in babies hosts the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
The South Korean training kit and uniforms for the opening and closing ceremonies will cover most of the body and be infused with repellant, a Korean Olympic Committee spokeswoman said.
Competition clothing cannot be mosquito-proofed due to strict regulations, she added.
“But we will distribute mosquito-repellant sprays to the athletes and will also vaccinate them against other diseases that can be spread by mosquitoes just in case,” the spokeswoman said.
The committee will also train athletes on ways to avoid mosquito bites.
There is no vaccine or cure for the Zika virus, which in most people causes only mild symptoms a rash, joint pain or fever.
Brazil has reported around 1.5 million Zika infections out of a global total of 2.0 million.
The South Korean team is seeking at least 10 golds in Rio and a top-10 spot in the medals table.
One of its best prospects, Ki Bo-Bae, who won individual and team women’s archery golds at the London 2012 Games, said she was relaxed about the Zika scare.
“I went to Brazil twice for training and people there didn’t seem too concerned about it and the athletes didn’t experience any discomfort.
“So no, I don’t feel uneasy,” Ki told AFP.
And national archery team coach Moon Hyung-Cheol was equally untroubled although he was also reassured by the anti-mosquito clothing.
“By the time we go, there will be no mosquitos because there weren’t any when we went last September,” he said.
“Also, our team uniform is completely mosquito repellent,” he added.