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Last updated at 12:13 GMT, Thursday, 22 March 2012

Hands off Olympic athletes

Summary

19 March 2012

British athletes have been advised to avoid shaking hands at this year's Olympics. The team's chief medical officer has warned it could lead to illness spreading through the camp and harm the country's bid for medals.

Reporter

Alex Capstick

Athlete handshake

An athlete

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Report

Attention to detail has been a mantra of the British Olympic Association in its preparations for the London Games. Its determination to leave no stone unturned has now included advice on the friendly handshake.

The team's head doctor Ian McCurdie said within reason it should be off-limits. He said hand hygiene presented one of the biggest risks of infection to the athletes.

It's feared the spread of disease could scupper their chances of equalling their performance at the Beijing Olympics when they finished fourth in the medals table.

If handshaking is unavoidable the team members have been asked to wash as soon as possible as it could be the difference between success and failure.

Most of them will be living and mingling with thousands of other athletes in the Olympic village. The British authority on etiquette, Debrett's, said being asked not to shake hands with rivals and officials seemed a bit extreme, as it could look rude.

And a spokesman for the US Olympic team said they would be encouraging their athletes to meet, greet and interact with as many athletes from other countries as possible.

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Vocabulary

mantra

phrase or idea that is often repeated

off-limits

not permitted

hygiene

cleanliness

infection

having a disease

scupper

ruin

unavoidable

not preventable

mingling

mixing with others

etiquette

rules of behaviour

extreme

severe

interact

communicate

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