South Korea's Olympic committee has unveiled what officials describe as "Zika-proof" long-sleeved shirts and pants for athletes for ceremonies and practice in disease-wracked Brazil when this year's games are held in Rio de Janeiro.
Besides covering skin, the clothing will be impregnated with mosquito-repellent chemicals. The attire will be worn by athletes during ceremonies and training, and at the athletes' village, according to the Korean Olympic Committee, the Associated Press reports.
Uniforms worn during actual games could not be modified because of strict competition rules, according to the committee. But athletes will be allowed to use mosquito repellent during competitions.
The Zika epidemic in Brazil is believed to be responsible for some 4,000 cases of microcephaly — unusually small heads and brains and developmental deficits in babies born to mother who contracted the illness during pregnancy. Zika is a major concern of travelers to the country, including the large number of athletes — and fans — who head there this summer for the games. Disease fears have significantly hurt ticket sales to the August games.
South Korean Olympic and government officials visited Rio in early April to inspect game venues and hospitals. Korean Olympic Committee officials said they will soon issue guidelines to athletes and others traveling to the 2016 Games about how to protect themselves from Zika.
The US also just unveiled its Olympic attire, designed by Ralph Lauren. In sharp contrast to the South Korean wear, the jaunty nautical-look American clothing features leg-baring shorts. US athletes have been told to skip the games if they're worried about Zika.
Golfer VJ Singh of Fiji has pulled out of the competition because of concerns about Zika. Golfers Louis Oothuizen of South Africa and Adam Scott of Australia have also dropped plans to participate, but have offered other reasons than Zika fears.