British Olympians told not to shake hands

British athletes have been advised not to shake hands with rivals or dignitaries at the London Olympic Games for fear of picking up an illness that could wreck their medal chances.

British Olympic Association chief medical officer Dr. Ian McCurdie said the Olympic Village provided for a "pretty hostile environment" and that illness loomed as a major threat to the athletes’ performance levels, The Guardian reported.

Asked if he felt athletes would be wise to avoid shaking hands, McCurdie said, "I think, within reason, yes."

He added, "I think that is not such a bad thing to advise. 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."

The BOA also advised its 550 athletes to wash their hands regularly and to use anti-bacterial hand foam.

"Essentially we are talking about minimizing risk of illness and optimizing resistance," McCurdie said.

"Minimizing exposure and getting bugs into the system and being more robust to manage those should that happen. Hand hygiene is it. It is all about hand hygiene."