London Spy

GB athletes told not to shake hands

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British athletes are being told not to shake hands in case they catch an illness bug that could ruin their London 2012 Olympic dreams.

The British Olympic Association's chief medical officer, Dr Ian McCurdie, believes athletes could easily pick up a harmful virus in the "stressful environment" of the Games.

As a result, Dr McCurdie has commanded British athletes to not shake hands as he considers it to be a very real danger to their health.

Dr McCurdie said: "Within reason, yes. I think that is not such a bad thing to advise."

"The difficulty is when you have got some reception and you have got a line of about 20 people you have 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 that regular handwashing and/or also using hand foam can help reduce the risk - that would be a good point."

The advice follows a detailed study of health and related issues by the BOA, which remains committed to sending a fully-prepared team to London 2012.

Dr McCurdie has reportedly provided tips for the 550 athletes and 450 support staff which include regular handwashing and use of a special hand foam for additional protection.

Athletes are also being advised to be tested for allergies, report any symptoms early and consider the use of probiotic drinks to help ward off infection.

Dr McCurdie said: "At an Olympic Games or any major event the performance impact of becoming ill or even feeling a little bit ill can be significant.

"Essentially we are talking about minimising risk of illness and optimising resistance."

The BOA says the Olympic environment is "a pretty hostile one" and that it will be a first-time experience for many athletes and support staff.

The team will also have to contend with sleep deprivation and longer working hours, and being on home soil will add "another layer of stress", Dr McCurdie said.

"Being at an Olympic Games means you are normally inside a bubble and so there is effectively quite a limited number of people that you interact with when you are away in another country," he said.

"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."

Reuters

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