ZIKA VIRUS

Pau Gasol: “I’m considering not going to the Olympics given the Zika threat”

After writing opinion piece for EL PAÍS, Spanish basketball star reiterates concerns over upcoming Games in Rio de Janeiro

Pau Gasol is considering whether to compete in Rio.
Pau Gasol is considering whether to compete in Rio.Carlos Rosillo

Having just ended his 15th season with the NBA, and with just two months to go before he competes in his fourth Olympic Games, Pau Gasol stopped in Madrid on Monday to discuss basketball, his own career and his concern over the Zika virus.

The Barcelona-born NBA All-Star has expressed his misgivings about the mosquito-borne disease in a column for EL PAÍS headlined “Olympic dream or medical nightmare?”

“I hope that international health organizations and committees will provide information about the real situation in Brazil, so that athletes can make informed decisions. I am being proactive so as to get the most information possible, because I feel responsible for training people and for raising awareness,” said the Chicago Bulls center, speaking at the headquarters of Banco Popular, which is one of its sponsors.

We need to understand the gravity of the situation. Some people are thinking about starting a family, and this could affect them Pau Gasol

“We’ll see what happens in the end, but we need to prioritize the health of the athletes, the families and the fans who will travel to Brazil,” said Gasol, 35, about the Olympic Games being hosted by Rio de Janeiro this summer. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them do not want to risk their own and their families’ health. I’ve been talking to quite a few colleagues, and I am in touch with scientists and experts who are giving me privileged information. We need to understand the gravity of the situation. Some people are thinking about starting a family, and this could affect them. And [family] comes before any Games.”

A silver medalist himself at earlier Olympics, Gasol revealed that he is contemplating whether to go to the Rio games or not.

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“I’m considering it, just like any other person,” he said. “It’s something worth considering.”

Gasol, who has been on vacation since April after playing 72 games this season, will become a free agent in the coming weeks.

“I want to make the most of the years left in me,” he said. “The future is looking good, but there is still quite a bit of uncertainty and I don’t have enough information. On July 1 I will start assessing various projects and situations.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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