Sport: Pacific countries alert to safety risks in Rio
Pacific countries say they have been keeping well informed about health and security concerns around the Rio Olympics.
Pacific countries are receiving regular security updates from Brazil three weeks out from the start of the Rio Olympics.
But the region is not getting carried away by concerns over the Zika virus, despite a host of high profile withdrawals.
Cook Islands sporting officials say concerns about Zika and the Rio Olympics have been blown out of proportion. A number of top athletes have withdrawn from the upcoming global games, including the world's top four male golfers and Fiji's former world number one, Vijay Singh. The Cook Islands Chef de Mission in Rio, Robert Graham, says their athletes have been asking questions about the virus, but they are confident in the advice they have received from the authorities.
ROBERT GRAHAM: A few years ago we had Zika here in the Cook Islands, where we managed to rock that off and take care of that, and so we've been through it. We're taking our advice from the IOC, what the IOC's doing. They're updating us on a weekly basis on what's happening and what the Rio government are doing to counter it. If they say the Zika is too dangerous and the Games are postponed then the Games are postponed but other than that sometimes the media tends to blow it out of proportion in relation to the Games."
The Chef de Mission for Team Guam, Joey Miranda III, says they have also been taking the necessary precautions.
JOEY MIRANDA III: For the most part our athletes, they're not as worried pertaining to the information that's provided to us on the Zika virus...and then with safety you just need to follow proper protocol: as long as we stay within our limits, beware of your surroundings and advise me and coaches if they're going to be going off and where they will be. I think it's just communicating with the athletes during the Games, prior to getting there and through to the completion of the Games.
Two members of the Australian Paralympic sailing squad were robbed at gunpoint in Rio a few weeks ago while other athletes have been held up at knife and gunpoint in recent months. The Secretary General of the Federated States of Micronesia's National Olympic Committee, Jim Tobin, says they intend to take a safety first approach upon arrival in Rio.
JIM TOBIN: We'll only be staying at the Games Village and going to the venues - we won't be doing any outside activities and that's just advice on our own. To tell you the truth that's because we come from a rural island and going to a big city we would do the same thing if we were travelling anywhere else...we're just going to keep them into the game-mode staying at the village, competing and when they're not competing they'll be watching other Olympic sports. We're fairly positive that the Rio Organising Committee is very organised - I think it's things that are outside of the Organising Committee, which are the things that are in Rio the city itself: it has a lot of traffic, there's a lot of people, it's congested and there have been issues with security and safety. That's our main thing is just the safety of our athletes but we would do the same thing if we were travelling anywhere.
Fiji are sending the Pacific's biggest delegation to Rio with a record 53 athletes and Chef de Mission Cathy Wong says they won't be leaving anything to chance.
CATHY WONG: We're there to compete for the Olympic Games and we must not lose focus on that. Yes there are risks associated with going to any event that you go to so my job is really to mitigate this and to minimise it. With any major event we go to any outings is sanctioned by the Chef de Mission and usually we don't entertain unnecessary outings...so our team has got strict rules and procedures in place to enforce the safety of our athletes and we're keeping well abreast with our embassy in Brazil, who will be keeping us well informed of situations on the ground.
Jim Tobin says he has been in regular contact with officials around the Oceania region, including New Zealand's Olympic Committee, and is confident Rio will pull things together in time for the start of the Games on August the 5th.
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