(Reuters) – World number nine tennis player Tomas Berdych has said he is undecided whether to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics because of health fears over the Zika virus.
“The Olympics are still on my schedule and in my plans,” Czech Berdych, who is seeded 10th at this year’s Wimbledon, told British media.
“It (Zika) is definitely something that is in my mind. I have to really look at it and think about it.
“I just need to see how all the things are going and then make the best decision for myself (nearer the time).”
U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.
The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last fall in Brazil, which has now confirmed more than 1,400 cases of microcephaly that it considers to be related to Zika infections in the mothers.
Last week, the WHO said that the Games did not need to be moved or postponed because there is “a very low risk” that holding the event in Brazil will cause further spread of the virus.
An expert WHO panel on Zika concluded that staging the event during the Brazilian winter means the mosquito population will be smaller and intensified mosquito-control measures in place around venues “should further reduce the risk of transmission”.
Golfers Rory McIlroy, a four-times major winner, Charl Schwartzel of South Africa and Fiji’s Vijay Singh, along with U.S. cyclist Tejay van Garderen have already announced they will skip the 2016 Games because of the Zika threat.
Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic, however, said he is fully focused on the Aug. 5-21 Games.
“I’m still planning to go to the Olympics. It’s going to stay that way,” Djokovic said.
(Reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)