Olympic athletes aren’t letting the threat of the Zika virus keep them from traveling to Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games, but some athletes are taking precautions — especially if they’re planning to expand their families in the near future.
“My wife and I would like to have another kid. And I’m no spring chicken. I don’t want to get Zika and have to wait an additional year, or whatever it may be, for us to have kids,” John Speraw, the coach of the American men’s indoor volleyball team, told The New York Times. “I’m paying attention to Zika and I’m concerned about it. It’s not going to stop me from going down there, but I’m taking measures right now.”
Those preventative measures include freezing sperm.
“I’m doing it because I’m 44,” Speraw said, adding that his wife won’t be traveling to Brazil with him. “I don’t want to wait and try to have a baby when I’m 46, you know? If we want to try next February, which was our original plan, then at least we can still do that.”
Spanish basketball player Pau Gasol and British long jumper Greg Rutherford are also planning to freeze their sperm, according to The Times.
“We’ve also made the decision to have Greg’s sperm frozen,” Rutherford’s wife, wife Susie Verrill, wrote in an op-ed. “We’d love to have more children and with research in its infancy, I wouldn’t want to put myself in a situation which could have been prevented.”
The precautions can’t hurt, especially since Zika is shown to cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly. However, one athlete doesn’t plan to do anything different ahead of competition.
“You’ve got to be smart about it and take all the precautions you can, which we will,” April Ross, an American beach volleyball player, told The Times. “And I plan on getting tested when we get back before we start trying to have a baby. If we have to wait, we’re going to wait.”