Nadal, Ferrer not worried about Zika

RIO DE JANEIRO • Spanish tennis stars Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer have insisted that they are not worried about Brazil's Zika virus outbreak as they prepare to compete at the Rio Open this week.

"I'm not at all afraid," world No. 5 Nadal told a press conference. "I go out at night, and I know there's a risk, but I'm just happy to be back here again."

"If I get sick, well, then that's just bad luck," insisted the 14-time Grand Slam winner.

"I can see for myself that people here are going about their business as if everything was okay, so things can't be that bad.

"People are going to the beach, going out for walks, having dinner in restaurants."

Ferrer, ranked sixth in the world, said he had been reassured by Brazil's efforts to wipe out the mosquitoes which carry the virus.

"We've been told that everything possible has been done so that there will be no mosquitoes, which is comforting," he said. "We've been wearing long trousers at night but I'm not getting obsessed by the whole thing."

Brazil has been worst affected by the outbreak that has spread rapidly through Latin America and the Caribbean, with 1.5 million people in the country infected since early last year.

While it causes only mild flu-like symptoms in most people, scientists suspect that when it strikes a pregnant woman, it can cause her baby to be born with microcephaly, or an abnormally small head, which can lead to developmental issues.

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff on Saturday vowed that the virus would not jeopardise the Rio Olympics, which will take place from Aug 5-21.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's former windsurfing gold medallist Lee Lai Shan warned yesterday that some Olympic athletes face a bigger threat from the tainted waters of Rio de Janeiro than the Zika virus.

She expressed concern over the risk posed to windsurfers from the "very polluted" waters in the Brazilian city.

"Our biggest hurdle is... the poor water quality. It's very polluted there. Once you fall sick, you're done," the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games windsurfing champion told the South China Morning Post.

Windsurfers will be competing in Rio's Guanabara Bay. Brazilian authorities had promised to clean the natural harbour but even today, half of Rio's sewage pours in untreated.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline 'Nadal, Ferrer not worried about Zika'. Print Edition | Subscribe