Zika fears prompt Rutherford to freeze his sperm

How concerned are athletes about the zika virus at the upcoming Rio Olympics in Brazil?

LONDON • Greg Rutherford, Britain's Olympic long jump champion, has frozen a sample of his sperm because he is worried about contracting the Zika virus at August's Games in Brazil.

Last month, 150 health experts signed a letter to the organisers, calling for the Games to be moved or delayed because of the outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus, which can cause crippling birth defects and, in adults, has been linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Brazil's Sports Minister Leonardo Picciani said earlier this week that the number of people who contract the illness, for which there is no cure, will be "close to zero", but Rutherford and his girlfriend Susie Verrill are taking no chances.

"The Zika news has caused no end of concern," said Verrill, who already has a son with Rutherford. "We've made the decision to have Greg's sperm frozen. We'd love to have more children and... I wouldn't want to put myself in a situation which could have been prevented."

Rutherford's announcement came on the day it emerged that some British athletes are being advised to stay indoors after dark because of the threat of Zika and other diseases.

Fear of contracting the Zika virus is on the mind of many athletes.

China's former badminton world champion Wang Yihan said yesterday that she is worried after being attacked by insects while competing in Indonesia last week.

Britain's Greg Rutherford, who won the long jump gold at the London Olympics, made the decision with his
girlfriend as they hope to have more children. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES


The 28-year-old, who won silver in the women's singles at the London Games, was still smarting from red bites up and down her arms as she competed at the Australian Badminton Open in Sydney.

"They're itchy," she said. "I'm really not sure what kind of bugs they were. I don't think they were mosquitoes. Maybe it was on the bed that I was sleeping on. I bought some cream for them, but they're still itchy.

"I think everyone's been thinking about Zika. But obviously we've been told about how to be safe, wearing repellent and staying indoors and so on."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'Zika fears prompt Rutherford to freeze his sperm'. Print Edition | Subscribe