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Olympic teams get condoms

Condoms, mosquito nets and finding the best insect repellent are on the radar for the New Zealand Olympic Committee as they prepare to combat the Zika virus at the Rio Games. Photo / iStock
Condoms, mosquito nets and finding the best insect repellent are on the radar for the New Zealand Olympic Committee as they prepare to combat the Zika virus at the Rio Games. Photo / iStock

Condoms, mosquito nets and finding the best insect repellent are on the radar for the New Zealand Olympic Committee as they prepare to combat the Zika virus at the Rio Games.

With 76 days until the opening ceremony, the NZOC has opted to provide medical-standard condoms rather than the anti-viral supersheaths deployed by their Australian counterparts.

The ABC reported Australians will be given condoms containing Vivagel, an anti-viral agent to combat Zika, which can be spread through sexual contact as well as mosquitoes.

According to the manufacturers, Vivagel disarms HIV, genital herpes and the human papillomavirus.

However, Dr Bruce Hamilton, who will lead New Zealand's medical operation at the Games, said they were sticking to the preventive steps advised by the World Health Organisation.

"The NZOC is providing medical-standard condoms, which we do routinely.

The most important thing is to have some form of barrier protection. As yet there is no directive from the WHO for a specific type of condom."

The NZOC is in the process of choosing a mosquito repellent provider.

All beds will be issued with a mosquito net, and the New Zealand team uniform has been modified to ensure adequate protection.

The Zika virus has been linked to birth defects, including microcephaly, which results in an undersized brain and head. Investigations continue as to whether it can result in Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease that weakens the immune system.

The WHO warned last week that people who are pregnant should not go the Olympics, and those who do should abstain from sex or use a condom for at least four weeks after they return.

Despite that, 450,000 condoms will be available to athletes during the Rio Games, three times more than at the London Olympics.

The condoms will be distributed free from a clinic in the athletes' village, or from vending machines.

- Herald on Sunday

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