21:28 GMT +318 April 2019
Listen Live
    A team points race during the Junior Track Cycling World Championships

    US Cycling Champion Withdraws from Rio Olympics Consideration Over Zika

    © Sputnik / Vladimir Vyatkin
    Sport
    Get short URL
    0 77

    US professional bicycle racer Tejay van Garderen has taken himself out of consideration for the upcoming Olympic Games, due to fears that he could contract the Zika virus and pass it to his pregnant wife.

    Van Garderen, a well-known US bicyclist, announced that he will not enter his name into consideration to be chosen to compete in the  upcoming Rio Olympics. His wife, Jessica, pregnant and due in October, is the reason the racer announced that he "does not want to take any chances."

    The Zika virus, among other conditions, causes microcephaly in unborn fetuses, if the mother contracts the virus during or before pregnancy.

    "If Jessica were not pregnant right now, assuming I was selected, I would go," van Garderen told Cyclingtips.

    The US Olympic cycling team is yet to announce its choices for the men's squad, but confirmed to BBC Sport that van Garderen had withdrawn his name from consideration. Van Garderen is believed to be the first US athlete to decline to be considered for the Rio Olympics due to fears of contracting the Zika virus.

    The threat of the Zika virus on the Rio Olympics remains controversial, as World Health Organization (WHO) claimed earlier that there is "no public health justification" to move or postpone the games because of the outbreak. Despite that, a group of 150 health experts recently called for the Rio games to be moved or postponed, because of the threat of the virus.

    According to International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams, the organization "follows the recognized global authority on health, the WHO."

    Carlos Nuzman, head of the Rio organizing committee, told a meeting of the IOC on Thursday that cases of Zika will significantly drop from June to September, and claimed that Zika poses "no public health risk" that would warrant calling off the games.

    According to a spokesman for the city of Rio, Mario Andrada, "The rate of infection drops to very low numbers, very near zero."  However, pregnant women, or women planning to get pregnant,should take precautions, he suggested. A warning regarding pregnant spectators is the only public health issue addressed by Rio officials regarding the upcoming games.

    Participants share mixed views on health conditions during the oncoming games. Some athletes claim they have either "no worries" or that they "will take all proper precautions." Fiji's Vijay Singh and Australian Marc Leishman recently announced their withdrawal from the Olympic golf event due to Zika fears.

    The 27-year-old van Garderen twice finished fifth in the Tour de France, in 2012 and 2014. He has won the Tour of California and has twice won the USA Pro Challenge. Among bicyclists, he is labeled "America's best racer" by Business Insider.

    Related:

    At Least 12 Germans Infected With Zika in May
    Zika Prevention ‘Narrow Window’ Closing in US as Mosquito Season Begins
    Let’s Get it On: Rio Stocks Up on Olympic Supply of Condoms
    Armed Forces to Ensure Security at 2016 Rio Olympics
    Tags:
    cyclist, Zika Virus, Olympics 2016, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik