July 01, 2016
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Coaches say ...

Some Jamaican athletic coaches are not writing off advising their athletes to freeze their sperm amid Zika concerns if they qualify to be part of Jamaica's Olympic contingent to Rio, Brazil, for the games that will be held from August 5 to 21.

Scientists say the mosquito-borne virus can be transmitted sexually, so athletes such as Britain's Greg Rutherford have frozen his sperm because of concerns about how contracting the disease might affect his fertility.

The Zika virus has been linked to serious birth defects and has been declared a global public-health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO).

should consider

Bert Cameron, head coach at Cameron Blazers, said although he learnt of the decision by some athletes when contacted by THE WEEKEND STAR, Jamaican athletes should consider it.

"I would not dismiss it because it is a way to protect themselves and their future, so once it's legal, why not?" said Cameron.

When contacted, Maurice Wilson, coach and lecturer at the G.C. Foster College for Physical Education, said that he was also unaware of this move by other international athletes. But the technical leader for Jamaica's track and field team to Rio said he is urging Jamaican athletes to protect themselves, even if it means freezing sperm prior to the Olympic Games.

"I don't get into those technical things, but their agents should be doing what's in their best interests given the concerns about the disease," Wilson said.

But Dr Warren Blake, the president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), says Jamaican athletes should be more concerned about contracting the Zika virus on the island as the country currently has numerous Zika cases.

Last month, the WHO said it would examine the risks of staging the Olympics in the Brazilian city, having rejected calls from more than 100 leading scientists to move or postpone the games.

However, Cameron and Wilson dismissed calls for the mega sporting event to be postponed.

"I thought Athens in 2004 would not be ready and they pulled through, so I am sure that it will be ready," said Wilson.

And after preparing for years, Cameron said he could not encourage any athlete to withdraw from the event because of the Zika virus and stadium readiness concerns like top golfer Jason Day has.

"The Olympics are held every four years. Athletes work for years for this moment, so I would not advise any of them to withdraw from the games," he said.

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