The British Olympic chief medical officer has advised athletes not to shake hands at the 2012 London Games, for fear of picking up a bug which could end their medal dreams.

The Daily Mail reported that Dr Ian McCurdie is concerned about the 'stressful environment' that the Olympics creates and noted that a mild bug contracted under these conditions could easily knock an athlete off their stride.

Asked whether this means shaking hands should be off-limits, he said: "I think, within reason, yes. That is not such a bad thing to advise.

"The difficulty is when you have got a line of about 20 people you've never met before who you have got to shake hands with.


"Within reason if you do and have to shake hands with people, so long as you understand regular handwashing and/or using hand foam can help reduce the risk."

McCurdie's advice was aimed at British athletes competing in the games and was among a series of health tips being looked at by the British Olympic Association for their 550-strong team of athletes and 450 supports staff.

Others include being screened for allergies, reporting any symptoms of illness early, and having probiotic drinks containing friendly bacteria to help ward off infection.

"Almost certainly, the greatest threat to performance is illness and possibly injury. Hand hygiene is it. It is all about hand hygiene," said McCurdie.

He pointed out that the Olympic environment is a 'pretty hostile one', with athletes from the 204 competing nations sharing rooms and eating together, in dense housing. Anything from cutlery to door handles could have unwanted bugs lurking on it, the advice said.

Athletes are also to expect sleep deprivation, long hours and having to cope with living in a different place.

"At an Olympics you're normally in a bubble and there is quite a limited number of people you interact with when you are away in another country.

"In London we do not believe that is going to be the case. The variety of people the athletes and support staff are going to interact with is going to be huge."

- Daily Mail