Rio CEO: Security, not Zika, is biggest concern for Olympics

By: | Published: June 29, 2016 10:01 AM

The chief organizer of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics says security is his top concern, well ahead of the Zika virus. Sidney Levy, CEO of the Rio Organizing Committee, said Tuesday that keeping athletes and visitors safe from terrorism and other crime is his No. 1 top priority.

olympicsThe chief organizer of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics says security is his top concern, well ahead of the Zika virus. (Reuters)

The chief organizer of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics says security is his top concern, well ahead of the Zika virus.

Sidney Levy, CEO of the Rio Organizing Committee, said Tuesday that keeping athletes and visitors safe from terrorism and other crime is his No. 1 top priority. He called the biggest fear ”lone wolf” attackers.

”Differently from Zika, security’s at the top of my list – the very top of my list,” Levy said at a Council of the Americas event. ”We should never forget that these days we live in a society that’s very in danger.”

The plan is to have 85,000 security personnel on the streets. Levy said the 2013 visit of Pope Francis and the 2014 World Cup were tests for Brazil.

Francisco Dornelles, Rio’s acting governor, warned on Monday that budget shortfalls could compromise security and transit at the games. Levy said intelligence officials from 100 different countries are in Brazil monitoring potential threats.

Zika, a virus linked to birth defects, has drawn widespread international concern. Levy stressed he does not worry about the virus and said none of the people working for him has contracted Zika. He pointed to expected cooler temperatures during the Olympics in his attempt to assuage fears.

”If I have to write on a piece of paper my top 10 worries today, Zika wouldn’t be there,” he said.

”I’m not saying it’s not a public health issue. It is a public health issue. But we are going into the winter months in Rio and if you see every statistic of last year’s mosquitos’ proliferation in the summer and in the winter, it goes very high up in February and reaches the peak, which is the height of the summer. It starts going down, down, down. Right now it’s almost zero.”

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