LONDON: Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford has made the decision to freeze his sperm because of fears about the Zika virus at this year’s Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Rutherford’s girlfriend, Susie Verrill, said the couple were increasingly worried about mosquito-born Zika, which can cause birth defects in babies.
The virus, which is sexually transmissible, can also trigger adult-onset neurological problems such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which can cause paralysis and death.
Verrill said Zika has caused “no end of concern” and was a major factor in her decision not to accompany Britain’s Rutherford to the Games with their son, Milo.
“The Zika news has caused no end of concern if we’re totally honest,” Verrill wrote in an article for Standard Issue Magazine.
“We’re not ones to worry unnecessarily, but after more than 100 medical experts stressed the Games should be moved to prevent the disease from spreading, this was a huge factor in us choosing to stay put.
Last month, 150 international medical experts signed an open letter calling for the Rio Olympics to be moved or delayed, an appeal that was rejected by Brazilian authorities and the World Health Organisation.
Several athletes have expressed concerns about Zika and some, including golfers Marc Leishman and Vijay Singh, have opted to skip the Games altogether.
Nearly 1,300 babies have been born in Brazil with microcephaly -- abnormally small heads and brains -- since Zika began circulating there last year.
The experts’ open letter said it posed an “unnecessary risk” to expose hundreds of thousands of visitors to potential infection, when they could then spread the virus internationally when they return home.
ZIKA THREAT HAS WANG WORRIED
LONDON: The threat of Zika at the Rio Olympics is very much on the mind of China’s former badminton world champion Wang Yihan, who was attacked mercilessly by insects while competing in Indonesia last week.
The svelte 28-year-old, who won silver in the women’s singles at the London Games, was still smarting from red bites up and down her arms as she competed at the Australian Badminton Open in Sydney on Wednesday.
“Yes, I think everyone’s been thinking about (Zika),” Wang said. “But obviously we’ve been told about how to be safe, wearing repellent and staying indoors and so on,” the London Games silver medallist said.