Many of the world's best athletes are withdrawing from the 2016 Olympics in Rio
OLYMPICS -- After the World Cup was held in Brazil in 2014, athletes began to look forward to the 2016 Olympics.
The response had been mostly positive and there was encouraging anticipation for another round of Rio. The country of Brazil would work to correct some of the issues they had during the World Cup, and be ready for 2016.
Then the Zika Virus came along and infected their hopes of redeeming themselves.
It is far from an epidemic at this point, but the potential health risk still has many athletes worried. Some Olympic categories are going to be missing several of their top ranked competitors. The ones choosing to stay home are stating decisions like “scheduling” and “personal circumstances,” while some are outright saying they are afraid of the Zika Virus.
Some of the credit for this fear has to go to the Ebola Virus that had infected over 20 000 in West Africa and three in the United States. The coverage of Ebola was impossible to avoid and it made people rethink traveling to Africa completely. Now it looks as though Zika has done the same.
It begins with Golf, which is returning to the Olympics after a 112-year hiatus.
Its return looks to be less than spectacular with the top four golfers in the world all bowing out.
When your sport is returning after more than a century and the top guys don’t feel like showing up, that’s not a good sign. But Golf isn’t the only sport suffering, Tennis and Basketball are both going to missing some of their top athletes.
Canadian Milos Raonic, ranked 7th in the world, pulled out due to “uncertainty over the Zika Virus.” Notably, USA Basketball is missing many of the games top players including LeBron James and Stephen Curry.
Team USA is still expected to win Gold in Basketball despite missing many of its top players, but the losses may make things more competitive. Tennis still has a majority of their top athletes and the winner will have competed against the best.
Golf may not fare so well, along with missing the four top ranked golfers in the world, they don’t have the big names including Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, and Phil Mickelson. Whoever takes Gold in Olympic will be winning a consolation prize.
Most Olympic sports are affected by regular things other than the Zika Virus like injuries and failed drug tests. With no appearance from Usain Bolt and the likely ban of Russia, Brazil has been dealt a tough hand.
Hopefully there are no scares with Zika during the games and Rio 2016 can build a positive memory for the world.