News emerged earlier in the week that some journalists are refusing to cover the 2016 Summer Olympics over fears that they might contract Zika, a mosquito-borne virus spreading across Brazil and other regions. Zika is widely known to potentially cause serious birth defects in babies, and the outbreak in and around Brazil has been a topic of heated debate where the Olympics are concerned. But it’s not just journalists who are taking precautions amid fears that infected mosquitos will spread the virus throughout the Summer Games — the Olympians themselves are now also beginning to take steps to protect themselves and their families.
British long jump champion Greg Rutherford has confirmed to the press that he will have his sperm frozen ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Rutherford, who won the gold medal in long jump at the 2012 Summer Olympics, is afraid he may become infected during the Games as the Zika Virus outbreak continues to spread across the region. His longtime partner Susie Verrill penned an article in women’s magazine Standard Issue explaining why neither she nor the couple’s son will attend the Games in Rio this summer, where Rutherford is a favorite to take gold in the long jump competition.
“The Zika news has caused no end of concern if we’re totally honest,” Verrill wrote. “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.”
She continued, “We’ve also made the decision to have Greg’s sperm frozen. We’d love to have more children and with research in its infancy, I wouldn’t want to put myself in a situation which could have been prevented. Specialists still also don’t know the ins and outs of Zika.”
Rutherford isn’t the only Olympian taking precautions. Some teams have been disallowed from going outside after dusk, which is when mosquitoes begin collecting in greater numbers. Meanwhile, some athletes have completely withdrawn from the Games. U.S. cyclist Tejay Van Garderen announced last week that he would bow out over fears that he might contract the Zika Virus and cause complications with his wife’s pregnancy.