Athletes, Coaches Freezing Sperm Before Olympics Over Zika Fears

But few plan on staying home
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2016 4:08 PM CDT
Athletes, Coaches Freezing Sperm Before Olympics Over Zika Fears
Men's volleyball coach John Speraw is freezing his sperm before traveling to Rio for the Olympics over concerns about the Zika virus. He's not alone.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The Zika virus is adding a whole new wrinkle to the way athletes and coaches are preparing for the Olympics this year. For example, the New York Times reports John Speraw, coach of the US men's indoor volleyball team, is freezing his sperm before traveling to Rio. “My wife and I would like to have another kid,” the 44-year-old Speraw says. “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.” Since the Zika outbreak, there have been more than 1,500 confirmed cases of microcephaly in babies born in Brazil, according to the BBC. And Speraw isn't alone. NBA player Pau Gasol tells the AP "freezing sperm is one of the measures I have to consider." (Gasol, who won silver for Spain in 2008 and 2012, hasn't committed to playing in Rio.) British gold-medal long jumper Greg Rutherford is freezing his too.

Still, few athletes are actually pulling out of the Olympics due to Zika. It's mostly their support networks that will be staying home. “That’s the biggest impact—other family and friends, people who may have come before may not come now,” volleyball player Murphy Troy tells the Times. Speraw's wife and daughter are among those who won't be attending. The athletes themselves are planning on taking as many precautions as possible to protect themselves, mostly by avoiding mosquito bites. Or, as Troy puts it, “bug spray and long sleeves and stay inside.” WHO says everyone traveling to Rio for the Olympics—with the exception of pregnant women—should be fine. More than 200 academics and specialists who signed an open letter to WHO advocating for the Olympics to be canceled disagree. (Read more Zika virus stories.)

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