Bogut considering Rio withdrawal over Brazil's Zika outbreak

NBA champion and Boomers center Andrew Bogut has voiced concerns about Brazil's Zika virus outbreak, and is evaluating his participation in the upcoming Rio Olympics.

According to a report by Peter Rolfe of the Herald Sun, the Golden State big man has made known his concerns on the potential hazards Olympic athletes and their families could be facing.

“The issue is the Olympic committee and the AOC are saying everything is fine,’’ Bogut said. “Like no s***, they want you to go. So I take with a grain of salt what they are putting out."

“When you go somewhere and you can simply get bitten by a mosquito and you can come down with something, it’s not something you don’t want to risk."

Despite the uncertainly surrounding the situation, Bogut confirms he is still committed to the cause right now. “As of now I’m 100 per cent committed, but I’m eagerly reading news articles and whatever I can to get more information about it and following it closely."

“I might have to buy a ‘haz mat’ outfit to arrive.’’

Concerns from other would-be Olympians

The Zika virus is raising similar worries among other athletes, including Bogut's Golden State teammate, Klay Thompson. The shooting guard has expressed his enthusiasm in representing the USA at the Olympics, in a recent interview with the San Jose Mercury News, but at the same time voiced apprehension about the situation.

"Mosquitoes love me," Thompson said. "I grew up in Oregon. I felt like I was always getting bit. So it's no joking matter, but it's a little concerning. At the same time, you just have to take the precautionary steps to avoid it. It's not going to deter me from going."

Other high-profile names who have expressed their concerns --mostly over Zika's potential for causing birth defects-- include USA cyclist Tejay van Garderen and Australian pro golfer --and world number 1 in the sport-- Jason Day.

Van Garderen has officially withdrawn from the Rio Olympics, while Day, like Bogut is monitoring the situation before making his mind up.

"I don't think it's an Olympic issue, I don't think it's a Rio issue, I think it's a medical issue," Day said in an AAP release. "So I am a little wary on it and once again I just have to make a smart educated decision on whether I go or not."

About the Zika virus

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, the Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito --and in lesser reported cases, via sexual intercourse-- causing symptoms like fever, rash, joint pain among others. It usually does not result in fatalities, but is known to cause serious birth defects in newborns - more than 1,400 cases have been reported in Brazil. It has also been linked to adults experiencing Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a nervous system dysfunction that causes the immune system to attack nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and paralysis.

The virus is not new; it has existed since 1947. In 2015, Brazil was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Public Health Emergency of National Concern (PHEIC), with expectations that the virus will continue to spread to new areas.

According to a recent Reuters report, the WHO has evaluated the growing Zika situation with its own experts, and projects minimal Zika infections to foreign visitors during the event. The WHO's official advisory suggests that visitors should use mosquito repellent and wear light-coloured clothing that limits exposed skin. Air-conditioned accomodation and facilities with good sanitation should be used, to avoid potential mosquito breeding grounds.

It is too early to tell how Zika virus will impact the Olympics, and more specifically the Boomers. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates, as Rio draws closer.