Since it’s outbreak, the Zika Virus has prospective Olympic athletes concerned about their safety during this year’s summer games in Rio. Pau Gasol, forward for the Chicago Bulls and Spanish National team, has come out and said that he’s considering not playing this summer because of the virus.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see some athletes deciding not to participate in the games to avoid putting their health and the health of their families at risk,” Gasol said to Tales Azzoni of the Associated Press. “I’m thinking about (whether or not to go). Just like every athlete, or any other person considering going to Rio, should be thinking about it.”
As with anything, the Zika Virus can either have no serious symptoms or be potentially fatal. It’s commonly spread from mosquitos to humans, but humans can continue the spread through sexual contact and blood transfusions. The CDC says that fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes are the most common symptoms and very few people die from the virus.
However, female athletes have been especially wary of traveling for the games because the virus is linked to birth defects. In fact, Professor Jimmy Whitworth from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine stated that all soon-to-be mothers should avoid Rio at all costs.
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Although the outbreak has caused a massive uproar in the sports world, the CDC hasn’t entirely advised against traveling and graded Brazil’s outbreak as a Level 2, meaning that everyone who travels to and from the country should “practice enhanced precautions.” Furthermore, the World Health Organization and International Olympic Committee haven’t seen any reason to postpone the games.
This summer would mark the fourth Olympics that Gasol has played in, and he has two silver medals to show for the previous appearances. Spain has been deemed the only country whose team can challenge the United States for the gold, and without Gasol, the U.S. would almost walk into first place.