Sydney: Swimming legend and five-time Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe has expressed concern and compassion for those contemplating or have already decided to withdraw from the Rio Olympics due to the Zika virus. Despite assurances from health authorities, Thorpe said he knows why athletes like Irish golfer Rory McIlroy have opted to miss the Games due to fears over the mosquito derived disease.
“Of course it’s a concern. It’s one of those things that when you travel you are concerned about your safety. If you are travelling to Thailand or Africa, you look at what the issues are and you work out if you want to travel. The same can be said in Rio,” Thorpe was quoted as saying on Friday. “The mosquito that is there is the same one that is dengue, so if an athlete is going to be hit with that mosquito they are either going to have dengue or Zika. Both show up in a similar way and it’s hard to work out which one it is. Either way if you get it you are not going to be able to compete,” the said. Thorpe, who had specialised in freestyle said he particularly felt for female athletes, who may be considering pregnancy post their Olympic campaign. He said health authorities are doing their best to come up with preventive measures like repellents. “It’s a concern that we don’t know anything good about it and I understand, especially female athletes, you may have pushed out their careers to go to another Olympics. If they are considering having children and things like that, without being aware I understand the position of people not competing,” the 33-year-old said. “I know we’ve got a new Olympic sponsor that’s an insect repellent, which is kind of novel, but hopefully that will work for our competitors. Every athlete around the world is going to be in the same position competing over there. It’s the same challenge for everyone and I just hope it’s a successful Games, especially for Brazil,” Thorpe concluded.