2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil

The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Brazil from August 5 through August 21. Events will be held in 6 different cities (Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Brasilia, and Manaus); Rio will be the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics.

If you are planning on traveling to Brazil for the Summer Olympics, here are some general travel tips to get you started! For further details, book an appointment now to get comprehensive advice tailored to the specific details of your trip and your health status.

Visa requirements:

The Brazilian government passed a new law authorizing visa-free tourist entry of Brazil for the 90 days around the Rio 2016 Olympics. This means there is no tourist visa needed to enter Brazil from 01 June 2016 until 18 September 2016. You do not need an Olympic ticket to take advantage of this waiver. A valid Canadian passport will be the only document required during that period. The entry permit cannot be extended. After that time all the usual old visa rules will once again apply.

Yellow fever vaccine:

A certificate of yellow fever immunization is not required for entry in to Brazil, however if you plan on travelling immediately before or after the Olympics you may still require one. Of the venue cities, yellow fever vaccination is typically recommended for travel to Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, and Manaus.  As yellow fever vaccine is a live vaccine, certain travellers may not be good candidates to receive it.  A consultation with our certified travel health practitioner will determine if the vaccine is right for you. Polaris Travel Clinic and Pharmacy in Airdrie is a certified yellow fever vaccination centre with the Public Health Agency of Canada and will be able to provide you with any relevant documentation.

Other Vaccines:

Other vaccines that should be considered for a trip to Brazil include: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, influenza, rabies, MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), and tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis.  Your vaccination history, medical conditions, allergies, and planned activities on your trip will determine if these or other vaccines may be needed.


Manaus is the only venue city where anti-malarial medication is typically recommended.  If you are making other trips while in the country, specifically to the Amazon or rainforest areas, you may need these medications.  Determining the right anti-malaria medication is part of what happens at a travel health consultation.  It is also important to use a good insect repellent regularly, as no anti-malaria medication is 100% effective and other mosquito-related diseases are still of concern in Brazil (see below).

Zika virus:

The Zika virus is on the rise in Brazil. According to the World Health Organization and Brazil’s Ministry of Health, more than 1.5 million cases of Zika virus infection have occurred in the last year (including the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo). The Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitos and is closely related to dengue, West Nile Virus, and Japanese encephalitis. Only 1 in 5 people infected with the Zika virus will experience any type of symptom (usually fever, headache, rash, and/or muscle ache). Currently, there is no cure or vaccine for the Zika virus, making proper insect repellent use and other personal protection measures of utmost importance when traveling to Brazil (such as removing containers with stagnant water, using specialized bed nets, and avoidance of outdoor activities during certain times of day). Due to a strong association with congenital malformations and case reports of sexual transmission, most health authorities are recommending that pregnant women or women who are planning on becoming pregnant in the near future consider postponing travel to Brazil. Currently, Health Canada recommends women to wait at least two months after their return before trying to conceive, and for men to use condoms for two months after their return (see more here: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/phn-asp/2016/zika-eng.php).

 Food and water safety:

Traveler’s diarrhea can occur while in Brazil, even when staying in deluxe accommodations. Do not let your bowels deter you from enjoying your trip! Education about what is safe to eat and what should be avoided is important.  At your travel health consultation, we will provide traveler’s diarrhea education (on what non-prescriptions items to pack, recognizing the signs and symptoms, as well as food and beverage precautions) and can prescribe antibiotics that you can take if you develop traveler’s diarrhea for quick and effective relief.

Other health considerations:

Air pollution and other insect-borne infectious diseases may be of concern when traveling to certain areas in Brazil. Book a consultation with us today to find out more about your specific health risks.

Cultural Considerations:

  • Toilet paper is placed into bins beside the toilet (not placed in toilet)
  • Churrasco (grilled beef) and feijoada (black bean and meat stew served with rice) are renowned in Brazil. Cairipinha is a popular alcoholic beverage
  • Most hotels and restaurants include a service charge (~10%), you may choose to add a small amount. When no service charge has been included, add a 10-15% tip.

 Don’t forget to

  • Have adequate travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance
  • Pack a good travel first aid kit
  • Practice safe sex
  • Respect local laws
  • Use only registered taxis, preferably radio taxis
  • If you develop a fever or feel sick even if it is weeks after returning, see a physician and make sure you tell them you were out of country

Local emergency numbers (in Portuguese):  190 (police), 192 (ambulance), and 193 (fire department).

Canadian embassy in Brazil: www.brazil.gc.ca

Brazil embassy in Canada: www.brasembottawa.org

The info above should not be taken as specific individual medical advice.  To book an appointment with us to discuss further, click here for our online appointment request form or call us at 403-980-TRIP (8747).

We also now provide a method to ask questions of our travel health providers online.  Go to polaristravelclinic.ca/telehealth to find out more.