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Summer Olympians May Not Shake Hands: Why?

The British Olympic Association has suggested that athletes who will participate in this year's Summer Olympics should not shake hands with another for fear of illness.

"The greatest threat to performance is illness and possibly injury," said BOA chief medical odder Iam McCurdie while speaking to British reporters. "We are talking about minimizing risk of illness. It is all about hand hygiene."

Great Britain won 47 overall medals at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, coming in fourth overall behind the U.S., China, and Russia.

"I think that is not such a bad thing to advise," added McCurdie of passing up handshakes. "The difficulty is when you have got some reception and you have got a line of about 20 people you have never met before who you have got to shake hands with."

A gesture of polite and positive sportsmanship, the BOA's suggestion of avoiding hand hakes has embroiled them in controversy.

The BOA simply "want their team to be the best prepared ever," explained Gordon Farquhar of BBC.

Farquhar also noted that the BOA's suggestion should not be taken out of context.

On Twitter, users are sounding off about the advice from the BOA.

"British Olympic Association has lost the plot telling people no to shake hands before the event!" wrote one Twitter user on Tuesday.

Reuben posted, "Dear British Olympic Association medical boss, re: your handshake advice, you win gold for stupidity."

The BOA later backed off from the severity of the statement, indicating on Twitter that athletes should be conscious of hygiene.

Britain's Department of Health also responded Tuesday, telling the Associated Press, "There's no reason why people shouldn't shake hands at the Olympics."

This summer's London Games begin July 27 until August. London continues to prepare for the international event at the Olympic Stadium and throughout the city.

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