U.S. relocate Puerto Rico camp over Zika concerns

Fri May 20, 2016 11:24am EDT
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By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - USA Swimming has moved a pre-Olympic training camp from Puerto Rico to Atlanta due to concerns about Zika but does not expect the mosquito-borne virus to keep them from competing at the Rio Games in August.

The U.S. team, which were originally headed to Puerto Rico following a July 11-21 training camp in San Antonio, will now hold that second camp at the Georgia Tech aquatic center that hosted swimming events during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

"Zika is definitely alive and well in Puerto Rico and there is no reason we would ever want to expose our athletes to that," Frank Busch, USA Swimming' s national team director, told Reuters on Friday.

"I didn't hear from any athletes. This was done strictly by what I thought was the best thing for our athletes. We don't want to expose them to something if we don't have to."

The decision comes two weeks after Major League Baseball relocated a two-game Puerto Rico series due to growing concerns among players over the Zika virus in the area.

Zika has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with undersized brains, and has hit over 40 countries and territories with Brazil, host of the Aug. 5-21 Olympics, so far the hardest hit.

Busch said he was recently in Brazil and didn't see a mosquito but did notice a lot of spraying going on and is confident the proper precautions are being made.

"Right now I think everyone feels pretty good about the precautions that Brazil has taken," said Busch.   Continued...

Swimmers dive in the pool to start their men's 100m freestyle heat during the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska, June 28, 2012.   REUTERS/Jeff Haynes