Zika Virus: 'Zero Risk' Posed to Athletes at Rio Olympic Games

There is no chance that the Rio Olympic Games will be cancelled due to the Zika virus, according to high-ranking figures in the Brazilian government.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global emergency in reaction to a disease that has been linked with microcephaly, where babies are born with underdeveloped brains.

But everyone travelling to the Olympics in the summer, apart from pregnant women, should be safe, according to Jacques Wagner, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's chief of staff.

"We have to explain to those coming to Brazil, the athletes, that there is zero risk if you are not a pregnant woman," Reuters news agency quoted Wagner as saying.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach welcomed the WHO's decision to upgrade the virus while insisting that athletes travelling to the Olympics in August would be safe from it.

"We welcome this decision by the World Health Organization because it helps raise even more awareness and to provide even more resources to fight the virus," Bach said, speaking at the University of California, Los Angeles, on Monday.

"We are in close contact with the WHO and we see also that so far there is no travel ban being pronounced by the WHO.

"We also see that the Olympic Games will be taking place in [Brazil's] winter time which is not the preferred breeding time for the mosquitoes."

Zika is spread via mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, though in most people these are usually mild.