Jason Day
Getty Images

Jason Day hedges Olympic interest due to Zika virus

Leave a comment

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

Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Doctor Pawel Gruenpeter of the hospital in Sosnowiec said Jakobsen suffered injuries to the head and chest but that his condition was stable at the intensive care unit. Jakobsen will need surgery to his face and skull, Gruenpeter told state broadcaster TVP Sport.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

Skate America
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

MORE: World’s top skater leaves famed coach

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!