Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic, a finalist in the recent Wimbledon tournament, announced his decision to withdraw from the Rio de Janeiro-2016 Olympic Games for fear of the Zika virus.
“It is with a saddened heart that I announce my retirement to participate in the Rio-2016 Olympic Games,” said Raonic, seventh in the ATP ranking, on his Facebook account.
“After long reflection with my family and my coaches, I made this decision for various health reasons, including the uncertainty surrounding the Zika virus,” he added.
Raonic, 25, indicated that it was a “difficult decision” and considered that it should not impact the consideration of other athletes about their intentions to participate in Rio.
After the Canadian announcement, the Romanian Simona Halep, world number 5, announced in Bucharest her withdrawal from the women’s Olympic tournament also due to the same fear of the virus.
“After talking with my doctors and my family, I have decided that the risks are too high for my health and my career, especially as a woman,” added the Romanian, a quarter-finalist at the last Wimbledon and a finalist at Roland Garros in 2010.
The American John Isner, the Austrian Dominic Thiem, and the Australian duo Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios, as well as the Spanish veteran Feliciano López have chosen, for various reasons, not to participate in the Olympic Games (5-21 August).
Brazil is the country most affected by the epidemic of Zika, a virus transmitted by the bite of a mosquito that can cause microcephaly in the fetus, a serious and irreversible malformation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The organism recommended that the delegations protect themselves from the mosquito and avoid contracting the infection through sex, using condoms or practicing abstinence, since the virus can also cause neurological problems in adults.
– Tennis tourism –
In addition to Zika, another reason why many tennis and golf stars will not be in Rio-2016 will be the lack of cash prizes and points for the world ranking of these sports.
Former French Open champion Italian Francesca Schiavone turned down the chance to play in Rio, while former world number one Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka will also be absent.
Sharapova is serving a doping suspension, while Azarenka announced on Friday that she is pregnant and will not compete again in 2016.
Eccentric Latvian player Ernests Gulbis hit the nail on the head by describing the Rio Olympic tournament as “tennis tourism”, due to the zero incentive in prizes and points.
Zika fears have already tarnished the image of golf in Rio due to the absence of the top four in the world rankings: Jason Day (AUS), Jordan Spieth (USA), Rory McIlroy (NIR) and Dustin Johnson (USA) . AFP