British athletes have been warned against shaking hands with rivals and dignitaries at the London Olympics. The British Olympic Association (BOA) is concerned about illness damaging the host nation’s chances of success. “The greatest threat to performance is illness and possibly injury,” said BOA chief medical officer Ian McCurdie. “We are talking about minimising risk of illness. It is all about hand hygiene.”
Around 10,000 sportsmen and women will take part in the Olympic Games, with British athletes set to share rooms, eating all their meals with competitors from more than 200 other competing nations. McCurdie added: “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. 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. At an Olympic Games, the performance impact of becoming ill or even feeling a little bit ill can be significant.”
It sounds as though the BOA is already preparing its explanation for the British team garnering not very many gold medals. A poor performance by the host nation is always humiliating, but blaming it on shaking hands too often with Johnny Foreigner will sound like a rather limp excuse.