Golfers say Zika virus will not put them off their stroke at Rio Games

Tue Feb 9, 2016 10:01am EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes and Matt Smith

LOS ANGELES/DUBAI (Reuters) - Leading male golfers say they will not allow fears about the Zika virus keep them away from Brazil when their sport returns to the Olympics after an absence of more than a century.

The spread of the mosquito-borne virus spread across Latin America has given some athletes preparing for the Games in Rio de Janeiro in August cause for concern.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has told U.S. sports federations that athletes and staff worried for their health should consider not going to the Games.

Kenya threatened on Tuesday to pull its elite runners and other athletes out unless it got assurances they would not be exposed to the virus outbreak in Brazil.

But golfers canvassed by Reuters at events in the past week said they were unperturbed by the situation, joining other sports personalities who have said they are still keen to go.

Golfers spend most of their time on the road competing in events across the globe, often in countries where they have to contend with a myriad of challenges off the course.

Though the World Health Organization last week declared Zika an international health emergency that could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas, symptoms are typically mild.

"We've traveled all over the world playing golf," American world number 14 Brandt Snedeker said at last week's PGA Tour event, the Phoenix Open.   Continued...

January 29, 2016; La Jolla, CA, USA;  Brandt Snedeker hits from the thirteenth hole tee during the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course -  North Course. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports