Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 11/13/14

With the Olympics Games taking place every two years for some athletes and every four years for others depending on their sport, it is important that Olympians take any and all precautions to remain healthy during, before and after competition. If an illness caused an athlete to have to miss an event, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would be squandered. But how careful is too careful? According to The Guardian, Great Britain’s athletes have been advised to avoid shaking hands at the London Olympics to avoid spreading germs around the athletes’ village and elsewhere.

Dr. Ian McCurdie, the British Olympic Association chief medical officer, recently said that illness is one of the main threats to performance in an Olympic Village that he described as a “pretty hostile environment.”

“I think that is not such a bad thing to advise,” McCurdie explained. “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. Essentially we are talking about minimizing risk of illness and optimizing resistance. Minimizing exposure and getting bugs into the system and being more robust to manage those should that happen. Hand hygiene is it. It is all about hand hygiene.”

As you may expect, the assertion by McCurdie has been met with a good amount of opposition. Germs or no germs, shaking hands is a symbol of respect — one that is particularly important on an international stage like the Olympics.

“There’s not reason why people shouldn’t shake hands at the Olympics,” Britain’s Department of Health responded Tuesday according to the Associated Press.

This certainly isn’t the first time a concern has been raised about health in the Olympic Village. At the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, an emergency supply of condoms was shipped to the athletes’ dormitories to assure that — well, you know. When it comes to Olympic competition, you truly can never be too cautious.

H/T Game On!

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