24 August 2016
Australia’s Health Minister, Sussan Ley, on Wednesday warned athletes returning from Rio of the need to practice safe sex in order to avoid transmitting the Zika virus.
Ley, who was among officials receiving the athletes at Sydney’s airport as they arrived home, said earlier in the day that there was a risk the virus could transmit from person to person through sexual activity.
“Therefore, Australians returning from Brazil should use condoms or avoid unprotected sex for at least eight weeks.
“We are absolutely vigilant with every aircraft coming in that may be carrying mosquitoes,’’ she said.
According to the Australian Department of Health, there have been 44 confirmed cases of Zika in Australia this year, all acquired overseas.
The virus is thought to cause birth defects in babies.
Australia’s Olympic team was given a hero’s welcome on Wednesday after returning from their Rio campaign, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meeting the athletes at the airport.
“They are all champions, every single one of them.
“All this is a family occasion, the big Australian family; 24 million of us.
“We embrace you, we applaud you, we’ve been inspired by you, we are so proud of you,” Turnbull said.
Governor General Peter Cosgrove, opposition leader Bill Shorten and several cabinet ministers also attended the home-coming ceremony, but the event was dominated by the athletes’ families and friends.
The athletes arrived in Sydney on a chartered Qantas flight, on which medal winners travelled in business class.
Swimmer Mack Horton, who won gold in the 400m freestyle event, said that he was excited to be home but was “sad to be leaving the team’’.
Chloe Esposito, who won gold in the women’s pentathlon, said she was glad Australia could watch her win the country’s first medal in the event.
“It’s so special and it really is sinking in now, seeing all of this,” Esposito said.
Australia finished tenth on the medals table, winning eight gold medals, their worst performance since the Barcelona Games in 1992.
Sports analysts have slammed the poor results which came despite the country investing 750 million dollars in preparation for Rio.