A US Olympic athlete has withdrawn from this summer’s Rio Games over concerns about Zika.
Cyclist Tejay Van Garderen is pulling out of the US team to avoid any risk to his pregnant wife, USA Cycling said.
“Although the risks associated with the Zika Virus can be minimal and precautions can be taken, my wife Jessica is pregnant, and I don’t want to risk bringing anything back that could potentially have an effect,” Van Garderen, 27, said in statement through USA Cycling.
“If circumstances were different I would have loved to be selected again to represent the USA, but my family takes priority and it’s a decision that I’m completely comfortable with.”
He is thought to be the first US athlete to withdraw from the Games because of the mosquito-borne illness which has been linked to birth defects
Van Garderen’s wife is due in October and there is evidence that Zika can also be transmitted sexually or through blood-to-blood contact.
USA Cycling spokesman Kevin Loughery said Van Garderen – who competed in the 2012 London Olympics – is the only rider to back out of consideration for the US cycling team ahead of August’s Games.
The World Health Organisation has rejected calls for the Rio Games to be cancelled after health experts warned it could become the “Olympics of brain damage”..