Baku. 3 June. REPORT.AZ/ American cyclist Tejay van Garderen understands the chances that he might contract the Zika virus at the Rio Olympics are minimal, and that precautions could be taken to further reduce the threat.
Report informs citing the foreign media, the athlete stated that with a pregnant wife at home, not even the smallest risk was worth it.
Van Garderen withdrew his name from consideration for the road cycling team Thursday, making him perhaps the first athlete to back out of the Summer Games because of the mosquito-borne illness blamed for causing birth defects including microcephaly, in which the baby's head is smaller than expected because the brain hasn't developed properly.
'I don't want to risk bringing anything back that could potentially have an effect,' van Garderen said in an email to The Associated Press. 'If the circumstances were different I would have loved to be selected again to represent the USA, but my family takes priority and it's a decision I'm completely comfortable with.'
USA Cycling spokesman Kevin Loughery said van Garderen is the only rider to back out of consideration for the U.S. cycling team. The final rosters for road, BMX and mountain biking are expected June 24.
Van Garderen, a member of the 2012 Olympic team in London, would have been a likely choice for one of the two U.S. spots in the road race. The 27-year-old Tour de France veteran is a strong time trial rider and his climbing ability would have been well-suited to the hilly course at the Rio Olympics.
But van Garderen's wife, Jessica, is due in October, and there is evidence that suggests the disease can be transmitted sexually or through blood-to-blood contact.
'I hope that I'll be in the position to race at the 2020 Olympic Games,' van Garderen said.
Rio organizers told the International Olympic Committee executive board on Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland, that the Zika threat should diminish dramatically during Brazil's winter months. They showed a graphic indicating the rate of infection falls significantly from June to September.
'The rate of infection drops to very low numbers, very near zero,' Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said.