Pau Gasol is reportedly considering not playing at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics because of the Zika virus, according to the Associated Press.
Gasol, who dropped out of medical school to enter the 2001 NBA Draft and whose mother is a doctor back in Barcelona, said Monday that he, along with other athletes are considering not participating in the games amid concerns about the virus. From the AP:
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see some athletes deciding not to participate in the games to avoid putting their health and the health of their families at risk.
“I’m thinking about (whether or not to go). Just like every athlete, or any other person considering going to Rio, should be thinking about it.”
According to the CDC, the Zika virus is spread to people mostly through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, and symptoms of the virus are fever, rash joint paint, and red eyes. The CDC also says that the virus is mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten, and people rarely die from the virus.
See where Pau Gasol considering skipping Olympics because of Zika. A real concern. But # of NBA guys will use as excuse to rest this summer.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) May 30, 2016
Gasol has clearly done his research in regards to the virus, and has expressed them as his biggest concern not just for himself, but for other athletes as well. While he himself has not made a decision, he feels that athletes should be aware of the risks, so they can make an informed decision, according to the AP:
“Some of these athletes are planning to have children in the near future and this could affect them, it could affect the health of their kids and their wives. Their health should come first.”
“I hope the national Olympic committees and the health organizations can be as clear as possible about the risks in Brazil so athletes can decide whether or not to take risks. I don’t think we’ve been told enough about it.”
The loss of Gasol would be big for Spain. He helped his country win the silver medal in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, along with brother Marc, and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, who participated in the 2012 Games.
Gasol has not been the only athlete to speak out recently in regards to the Zika virus. Last week, Rory McIlroy expressed his concerns about the virus and may skip the Rio Olympics because of it, and the Pirates and Marlins shelved their three-game series in Puerto Rico.