Tennis stars, unlike golfers, not deterred by Zika virus in Rio
LONDON (AP) -- While the Zika virus and family concerns have notably deterred some of golf’s best players from going to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the tennis elite isn’t put off.
Defending men’s champion Andy Murray said at Wimbledon on Saturday, “My plan is still to play.”
Roger Federer was also full steam ahead. “I’ll put mosquito spray on my body and take the precautions I have to,” said Federer, the runner-up to Murray in the London Games four years ago and a doubles gold medalist in the 2008 Beijing Games.
“I’m not afraid of Zika,” said Petra Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champ from the Czech Republic. “I will definitely go there.”
Rafael Nadal headlined the Rio Open in February and has said he will go to the Olympics, if fit.
Then there was the blissful ignorance of French Open champion Garbine Muguruza.
“I don’t really know what is Zika,” she said. But the Spaniard was sure the Olympics would not proceed if the virus posed a serious threat.
The mosquito-borne disease has been linked to severe birth defects in infants born to infected women, and possible neurological problems in adults, but to Kvitova the Olympics outweigh the risks.
She said she receives updates from a doctor with the Czech Olympic team, but admits she doesn’t read them all. But there was no way she was missing the games. “For me,” she said, “it’s like another Grand Slam.”
Federer, the father of four kids, respected the choices by the likes of golfers Rory McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel to be unavailable for Rio selection because of the virus. Other absentees, such as Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Graeme McDowell, did not cite Zika.
“I have never reconsidered my decision,” Federer said at Wimbledon. “I know I will play. I will try everything I can to be there. For me, it’s always been a big deal, the Olympics, regardless of (tournament) points or not, or where it is.”
Murray, who had his first child in February, has always been positive about going to Rio, but has always sought the latest medical advice.
“The doctor in British tennis, who has been working there for 35-40 years, he thinks (Rio is) pretty safe, and we should be OK,” Murray said. “When I’m done here (at Wimbledon), I’ll have another chat to make sure.”