If you’re an athlete who’ll be competing at this year’s Olympic games in London, don’t be offended if the 550 British competitors won’t shake your hand. It’s nothing personal — they’re just afraid you might have cooties.

Well, more specifically, they’re worried you might pass on germs that could make them sick and torpedo their chances at a medal.

British Olympic Association Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ian McCurdie said the throngs of people present in the Olympic Village create a “pretty hostile environment” for the health of athletes, and that hand-shaking should be avoided “within reason.”

“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,” he said, possibly suggesting that in some circumstances, appearing rude would be worse than catching a cold.

But if the Brits simply must make contact with other human beings, they’re being told to be vigilant about washing their hands and using anti-bacterial sanitizer.

“Minimizing exposure and getting bugs into the system and being more robust to manage those should that happen,” added Dr. McCurdie. “Hand hygiene is it. It is all about hand hygiene.”

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