Due to ongoing concerns surrounding the spread of the Zika virus, USA Swimming has reportedly moved its pre-Olympic training camp from Puerto Rico to Atlanta, Georgia.
Under condition of anonymity, a person close to the situation indicated to the Associated Press that a letter was distributed Thursday to USA National Team athletes and coaches explaining that the camp would be moved from San Juan, Puerto Rico to the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The camp is still scheduled to take place sometime after the team’s sessions in San Antonio slated for July 11-21st.
Due to the ‘explosive spreading’ of the Zika virus throughout Latin America, where reported cases number in the four million range this year alone, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health state of emergency this past February.
The Zika virus, carried via the same mosquitoes known to have spread dengue fever, has proven especially dangerous to pregnant women, as it is known to cause microcephaly in newborns. Microcephaly is blamed for causing brain damage, as well as babies being born with abnormally small heads.
USA Swimming National Team director Frank Busch’s full letter is below:
May 19, 2016
Hello National Team Athletes and Coaches,
As part of our preparations for the Olympic Games this summer, we have been closely monitoring the current situation with the Zika virus. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and other health experts in the field of science and medicine, our athletes would be highly exposed to the Zika virus in Puerto Rico.
USA Swimming’s most important priority is the health and safety of our Olympic Team. With this information, the National Team Division has decided to relocate the second camp to Atlanta, GA. Many variables were considered in selecting this location: flight time to Rio, time zone, facility and hotel availability, and training camp atmosphere. The team’s first camp will remain in San Antonio, TX.
We will also educate Olympic Team members about Zika and provide them with multiple tools to reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitos while in Rio.
Our partners at Marriott helped us greatly in this transition process and we know the new location will meet our needs. Team culture is one of the things that sets Team USA apart. We want to make sure our camp creates that unity as we head into the Olympic Games.
Keep training hard and we’ll see you in Omaha next month!