Raonic and Halep withdraw from Rio tennis over Zika

Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:04pm EDT
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By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and women's world number five Simona Halep of Romania have pulled out from next month's Rio Olympics due to fears over the Zika virus.

They, along with twice Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who is pregnant, will not be making the trip to Rio even though they were included in the final list of participants issued by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) on Friday.

The big-serving Raonic, who lost to Andy Murray in the men's championship match at the All England Club on Sunday, was the first tennis player to pull out of the Aug 5-21 Olympics due to concerns over the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

"It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my withdrawal from participation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games," world number seven Raonic, 25, said in a statement issued by Tennis Canada.

"After much deliberation with my family and coaches, I am making this decision for a variety of health concerns including the uncertainty around the Zika virus."

The Zika virus, which the World Health Organization says is spreading rapidly in the Americas, has been linked to severe birth defects in infants born to infected women, and possible neurological problems in adults.

Halep, who last month told Reuters she was "very worried" about the long-term effects of the Zika virus, consulted with many doctors before issuing her decision shortly after Raonic.

"I regret to announce that I have decided I will not compete in the Olympic Games. The reason for my decision is the concern regarding the danger posed by the Zika virus," Halep, a runner-up at the French Open in 2014, said on her Facebook page.   Continued...

Jul 10 2016; London, United Kingdom; Milos Raonic (CAN) in action during his match against Andy Murray (GBR) on day 14 of the 2016 The Championships Wimbledon. Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports