By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – Romania’s top tennis player Simona Halep could pull out of the Rio Olympics because she is “very worried” about the effects of the Zika virus.
“I have to research this virus because it’s not easy (to get all the information),” Halep, a runner-up at the French Open in 2014, told Reuters in an interview after reaching the second round at Wimbledon on Monday.
“I’ve asked many doctors (about Zika) and I have to speak to doctors again after this tournament.
“I’ve heard that even if you are not pregnant at the moment and you get the virus, when you get pregnant it (the virus) will activate. I’m very worried.”
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 Organisation has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.
“I am planning to go (to Rio) but I have to make sure it is safe there and I am safe there. When I play tennis, my health is the most important thing,” added the world number five.
“It’s dangerous for the ladies and many sportsmen have withdrawn from Rio for this same reason. It’s a real dilemma when it’s about your health, so I cannot say anything now for sure (whether I will pull out or not).”
A number of leading golfers, including major winners Rory McIlroy, Vijay Singh, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have pulled out of the Aug. 5-21 Games because of the virus.
Halep said she had yet to receive any guidance about effects of the virus from the Romanian Olympic Committee but hoped the picture would become clearer after Wimbledon.
“After this tournament I have to decide (whether I will go). I will be disappointed if I have to pull out because I really like the ceremony and the feeling that you are there with all the Romanians,” said the 24-year-old.
“The Olympics is a big deal for our country but my health is the most important. I have to be careful with my body.”
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Clare Lovell)