The Zika outbreak might be becoming the grand bull-moose (heh) gold medal winner of bad timing for Brazil - because if the U.S. Olympic team declines to expose themselves and doesn't bring hordes of American tourists and their (dwindling) dollars with them, a lot of other countries may follow suit:
The United States Olympic Committee told U.S. sports federations that athletes and staff concerned for their health over the Zika virus should consider not going to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.
The message was delivered in a conference call involving USOC officials and leaders of U.S. sport federations in late January, according to two people who participated in the call.
Federations were told that no one should go to Brazil "if they don't feel comfortable going. Bottom line," said Donald Anthony, president and board chairman of USA Fencing.
The USOC's briefing to sport federations is the latest sign that Olympics officials are taking the Zika threat to the games in Rio de Janeiro seriously, and acknowledging that at least some athletes and support staff could face a tough decision over whether to attend.
The United States won most medals at the last Olympics in London in 2012, so any disruption to its presence would be important for the Rio games.
I'm not going to pretend to put myself in the shoes of an Olympic athlete - not NBA or MLB players for whom playing in the Games is a novelty/vacation, but the fencers and rowers and synchronized swimmers and decathletes and other obscure sports participants for whom the Olympics are their Super Bowl, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attain the dream of both participating on the world stage against the best and, perhaps and perchance, standing atop that medal platform watching Old Glory go up and the Star Spangled Banner resound. Do you take the risk of your future children being crippled, or spreading it, or even potentially endangering your life for your lifelong dream? Would doing so anyway be courageous or foolhardy? I don't know.
But that's now an issue and a possibility, and thus a great, big, towering incentive for Brazil, in desperate need of the economic bonanza - and the distraction - that the Rio Games would provide, to get Captain Buzz under control ASAP.
Nothing stimulates "leadership" more than a big payday, after all - especially when you can't scam it.