What's filled with more germs and infections than just about everything a British athlete encounters from the moment they wake up in the morning to the moment they go to sleep? The hands of non-British athletes, of course.
At least that’s the general thought process that the British Olympic Association (BOA) is operating with heading into the looming 2012 London Games. Here is how Ian McCurdie, the BOA's chief medical officer, responded when asked if his athletes avoiding handshakes from others would be a smart move (via BBC, via Deadspin):
"I think, within reason, yes. The greatest threat to performance is illness and possibly injury. We are talking about minimising risk of illness. It is all about hand hygiene."
Shortly after that comment, perhaps realizing how it sounded, a BOA spokesman came out and said this:
"We are simply reminding athletes to take common-sense measures, such as washing their hands and using hand foam, to reduce the risk of catching a bug. It's the same type of advice many employers give to their employees.
"As an official policy, we are not advising our athletes to avoid shaking hands with people."
The Americans, in typical American fashion, swooped in and told the world that they loved shaking other people’s hands.
"We always encourage our athletes at the Olympic Games to embrace the Olympic spirit and meet, greet and interact with as many different athletes from as many nationalities as possible," United States Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.
This is one of those cases where McCurdie’s comment really isn’t as dumb as it sounds when you take into account the question he was asked, but it comes off hilariously bad out of context. Obviously shaking people’s hands increases the spread of germs. And when you’re at the most important athletic event in the world, one that only takes place every four years, it would be reasonable to not leave yourself open to any shot of getting sick.
It’s not that far out there of a thought process.
That being said, the American spokesperson actually issuing a comment about how much Americans love to shake hands is cringeworthy.
(Kudos to Deadspin for the find)