Jason Day hedges Olympic interest due to Zika virus

Jason Day
Getty Images
0 Comments

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — The Zika virus is why Charl Schwartzel is skipping the Olympics, and world No. 1 Jason Day is starting to think twice about going to Rio.

Speaking for the first time about his decision in late April to pull out, Schwartzel said he and his wife intend to have more children and the risk of Zika is too great.

“If I didn’t want to have children, or if I was single, I’d play,” Schwartzel said Friday at the Memorial. “It’s as simple as that.”

Day has been a strong proponent of golf’s return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence, saying a month ago it would be a massive honor to win a gold medal for Australia. With two children, and plans to have more, he began to hedge on Friday.

“It’s difficult to say right now,” Day said. “We’re just really trying to monitor what’s going on because we’re not done having kids. I don’t want to have to bring anything back and have the possibility of that happening to us. Obviously, it can happen here. But if you put yourself down there, there’s a chance of you getting it.”

Brazil has been the hardest-hit of the approximately 60 countries that have reported an outbreak of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus linked to severe birth defects and possible neurological problems in adults.

Schwartzel of South Africa and Marc Leishman of Australia are the only golfers who have said Zika was directly responsible for them deciding not to play. Leishman, who would have qualified when Adam Scott withdrew, said his wife’s immune system is not at full strength from nearly dying last year of toxic shock syndrome.

Scott, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Vijay Singh of Fiji have said they are not playing, though they did not cite Zika specifically.

Rory McIlroy said two weeks ago that he was monitoring the Zika situation, and while it appeared he left himself room to withdraw, he said this week at the Memorial that advice he has sought out “has put my mind at ease and makes me more comfortable going down there.”

Jordan Spieth said he intends to play.

Day said his concern increased when he read about Detroit Tigers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, who contracted the virus in Venezuela during the offseason and was sick for nearly two months. Rodriguez told ESPN.com on Tuesday he wouldn’t blame athletes for skipping the Olympics, especially if they might have more children.

The pitcher said it took him two months to feel back to normal.

“I don’t think it’s an Olympic issue. I don’t think it’s a Rio issue,” Day said. “I just think it’s a medical issue attached to what happens if I go there, get it and bring it back. They don’t know. The recommendation from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is ‘x.’ You don’t know how long it’s going to last in your body. So I’m a little wary about it.

“I’ve just got to make a smart, educated decision whether to go or not.”

Schwartzel and his wife have a 2-year-old daughter and plan to have more children. The South African says he expects more golfers to think hard about going, and he would not be surprised if more pulled out.

“You can hear the guys mumbling about it. It’s definitely stuck in their heads,” Schwartzel said. “I would go so far as to say anyone going is not comfortable going. I think it’s a worry for them. It’s a choice. If it was anywhere else, I’d play. I’d love to play in the Olympics.”

Day also said he was not alone in his concern.

The International Golf Federation is passing along Zika-related material to the tours and player liaisons. Last month at The Players Championship, the PGA Tour made available its doctor for anyone with questions.

“We have to see an independent doctor, not just a PGA Tour doctor,” Day said. “I’m not saying there’s bias. I’m just saying we need independent advice. I think there are a lot of guys on the fence about it because they don’t want to put themselves in harm’s way.”

MORE: McIlroy: If I get Zika, it’s not the end of the world

IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

Getty
0 Comments

The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
Getty
0 Comments

Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!