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Kerry to lead US delegation to Olympics

Secretary of State John Kerry will lead the presidential delegation to the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The White House announced Tuesday that Kerry and the delegation would also attend sporting events and meet with some of the U.S. athletes.

{mosads}For the 2008 games in Beijing, the presidential delegation was led by former President George H. W. Bush. In 2012, the delegation to London was headed by first lady Michelle Obama.

This year there are concerns ahead of the Olympics about the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne virus that thrives in warm climates and is a threat to pregnant women.

The virus can cause birth defects in babies, and a number of the world’s top athletes have said they will not attend the Olympic Games because of the threat presented by the virus. That includes seven of the world’s top golfers, American cyclist Tejay van Garderen, Romanian tennis player Simona Halep and others.

Olympic organizers are also scrambling ahead of the opening ceremony on Aug. 5 amid concerns that many venues and the athletes’ village will not be ready. Almost a half-million tourists, workers and athletes are set to visit Rio for the start of the games.

Kerry’s delegation will also include Mark Spitz, a nine-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming; Liliana Ayalde, the U.S. ambassador to Brazil; Mari Aponte, acting assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs; Liz Allen, the deputy assistant to the president and White House deputy communications director; and Ellie Schafer, special assistant to the president and director of the White House Visitors Office.

The secretary of State tweeted that he was “proud to lead the US delegation & support #TeamUSA.” 


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