Trio to play at Rio, despite Zika fears

Australia's Samantha Stosur said that competing at the Rio Olympics next month is "about being smart, following all the guidelines. I've had all the vaccinations".
Australia's Samantha Stosur said that competing at the Rio Olympics next month is "about being smart, following all the guidelines. I've had all the vaccinations".PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Australian top seed Samantha Stosur, Washington Open defending champion Sloane Stephens and German teen star Alexander Zverev are setting aside Zika virus fears to compete at the Rio Olympics.

"It's not something you want to take lightly," Stosur said after beating Russian qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva 6-3, 6-0 on day one of the ATP and WTA event, the first hardcourt stop on the path to the US Open.

"Other people say there are going to be far worse things going on than Zika. It's about being smart, following all the guidelines. I've had all the vaccinations. It certainly has entered my mind this time around."

Several top National Basketball Association players, more than 20 men's golfers and several top tennis players have withdrawn from Rio, many but not all citing the potential for contracting Zika, which causes severe illness and has been linked to birth defects.

"I'm kind of scared but I'm not having any kids any time soon so I should be OK," said Stephens, a 23-year-old American set to make her Olympic debut.

"Some people are way more sensitive and some people aren't. It just depends on the person."

Zverev, who at 27th in the world has become the youngest man at 19 years old to crack the top 30 since Novak Djokovic in 2006, said: "I was at the US Open and something bit me.

"I'm going to be very careful because of that. I only won one match the rest of the year. My leg got a lot swollen. I was really sick with fever, lost a lot of weight, couldn't eat.

"You think about it, that's quite a serious thing. You don't want to get something but the Olympics is a very big event.

"I'm a little bit worried about the Zika virus. A lot of people have pulled out. But it's going to be a lot of fun."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'Trio to play at Rio, despite Zika fears'. Print Edition | Subscribe