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Rio 2016: British Olympian has sperm frozen amid Zika fears

Greg Rutherford of Great Britain competes in the mens long jump during the Birmingham Diamond League Athletics meeting at Alexander Stadium on June 5, 2016. Photo / Getty Images
Greg Rutherford of Great Britain competes in the mens long jump during the Birmingham Diamond League Athletics meeting at Alexander Stadium on June 5, 2016. Photo / Getty Images

British long-jumper Greg Rutherford has frozen samples of his sperm amid fears about the Zika virus at this summer's Olympic Games in Rio.

Rutherford's girlfriend Susie Verrill has revealed the couple made the decision due to concerns about the disease, which is prevalent in Brazil and known to cause birth defects if contracted by pregnant women.

Last month, 150 health experts signed an open letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urging the Games to be moved or delayed because of the outbreak.

Rio 2016 organisers, however, insist there is no public health justification for the event not going ahead, insisting on Tuesday the virus poses a 'very low or no risk' to athletes and fans.

Rutherford, who won gold at London 2012, has one child, Milo, with Verrill, but the long-jumper's partner and son will not be travelling to Brazil this summer.

'The Zika news has caused no end of concern if we're totally honest,' Verill wrote in an article for Standard Issue magazine.

'We're not ones to worry unnecessarily, but after more than 100 medical experts stressed the Games should be moved to prevent the disease from spreading, this was a huge factor in us choosing to stay put.

'We've also made the decision to have Greg's sperm frozen. We'd love to have more children and with research in its infancy, I wouldn't want to put myself in a situation which could have been prevented.'

Cyclist Tejay van Garderen, as well as golfers Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman, have already pulled out of the Games due to risks associated with the virus.

American television presenter Savannah Guthrie also announced on Tuesday she is pregnant and consequently would be skipping the Games on doctors' advice.

Organisers continue to play down the risk Zika poses to the 500,000 people expected to attend the global event.

At an official Rio 2016 media briefing on Tuesday, it was repeated that the WHO have stated: 'There is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the Games.'

Officials added that from 44 test events involving 7,000 athletes, 8,000 volunteers and 2,000 staff, there had been zero cases of Zika.

Chief medical officer Joao Grangeiro also emphasised the timing of the Games, which takes place between August 15 and September 18.

'The Games will take place during the winter season in Rio de Janeiro when the cooler and drier weather will reduce mosquito populations,' Grangeiro said.

'This will significantly lower the risk of mosquito-borne infections for visitors, such as Zika virus.'

- Daily Mail

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