London Olympic gymnastics champ Arthur Zanetti of Brazil is threatening to switch nationalities ahead of his upcoming hometown Games in Rio unless the nation’s Olympic Committee is willing to invest in his sport going forward.
“When I won the gold medal in London everybody said my life was going to change, but it hasn’t changed at all,” Zanetti told TV Globo Sunday.
Zanetti won his gold in the rings competition last summer over defending champion Chen Yibing of China. The Brazilian star hopes to win on his home soil in 2016, but promises of funding have gone unfulfilled. Now he’s getting a little antsy.
“I have already begun thinking about competing for another country if the opportunity arises,” Zanetti, who’s forced to share the gym with 300 other athletes, added. “I would do it with a broken heart, because I am Brazilian and I like to be Brazilian. But if another country offered me what I needed, I would go.”
Zanetti would have to act quickly because IOC rules dictate that an athlete much switch nationalities three years ahead of the Games in order to compete for the new country. World No. 1 taekwondo fighter Aaron Cook switched from Great Britain to Isle of Man after being left off last summer’s team.
Spanish basketball star Pau Gasol is the latest athlete to announce publicly thoughts about skipping the Rio Olympics due to the Zika virus.
Gasol, a two-time Olympic silver medalist, held a press conference and wrote a column in Spanish newspaper El Pais titled “Olympic dream or medical nightmare?” on Monday.
“Returning to Spain after eight months in the United States, I am struck by how few people in Europe are talking about the Zika virus and its consequences,” Gasol wrote in the column. “From my conversations with both U.S. and Spanish experts, my conclusion is that Zika is a much bigger and more serious threat than we think.”
MORE: U.S. Olympic basketball game times announced
London Olympians Nic Long and Alise Post became the first members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic BMX team by capturing bronze medals at the World Championships in Medellín, Colombia, on Sunday.
Long, eliminated in the London Olympic quarterfinals, earned his first World Championships medal.
He finished third in Medellín behind France’s Joris Daudet and the Netherlands’ Niek Kimmann, the latter just missing in a bid to become the first BMX rider to repeat as World champion since the sport was added to the Olympic program in 2008.
Post, tearfully eliminated in the London Olympic semifinals, earned her third World Championships medal.
She was second for most of the final behind eventual Colombian winner and 2012 Olympic champion Mariana Pajón and was passed by Australian Caroline Buchanan on the final straight.
The U.S. can send two women and three men to Rio in BMX.
Long and Post bring the entire list of U.S. athletes qualified to Rio to 147 members.
MORE: 100 Team USA athletes to watch on road to Rio