Pau Gasol has not decided whether he will play for Spain in the Rio Olympics this summer, but if so, he may have a sperm sample frozen because of concerns about the Zika virus.
“Freezing sperm is one of the measures I have to consider,” said the Chicago Bulls star, who has led Spain to silver medals in 2008 and 2012 (via the Associated Press).
The virus, which is contracted via mosquitoes, has been linked to severe birth defects in infants born to women who been infected by it.
“I’m thinking about [whether or not to go],” Gasol told the Associated Press at the end of May. “Just like every athlete, or any other person considering going to Rio, should be thinking about it.”
Gasol had expressed concerns about the “serious and harmful threat” of the virus in a column for the Spanish daily El País.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see some athletes deciding not to participate in the games to avoid putting their health and the health of their families at risk,” Gasol wrote.
Last week, the wife of Britain’s Greg Rutherford, the reigning Olympic long jump champion, said her husband will freeze sperm before heading to Brazil.
Susie Verrill, his wife, wrote in an article for Standard Issue that the couple plans to have children and she doesn’t “want to put myself in a situation which could have been prevented.”
In early June, cyclist Tejay van Garderen removed his name from consideration for the U.S. team, becoming what is believed to be the first U.S. athlete to back out because of concerns about the Zika virus. Van Garderen, who was likely to make the team, is concerned that, if he contracted Zika, he could pass it along to his pregnant wife, who is due to give birth in October.
“If Jessica were not pregnant right now, assuming I was selected, I would go,” he told Cyclingtips. “But the fact is, she is pregnant. If we were just going to start trying, I’d say we could start trying six months after the Olympics. But when she has a baby in her belly, I don’t want to take any chances.”