Talk about the locals, not just people heading to Rio: Djokovic on Zika's threat to Olympics

Serena Williams admitted Saturday that the health dangers posed by the Zika virus in Rio ahead of the Olympics are a serious concern while Novak Djokovic pleaded for the impact on Brazilians not to be under-estimated.

AFP May 29, 2016 11:32:52 IST
Talk about the locals, not just people heading to Rio: Djokovic on Zika's threat to Olympics

Paris, France: Serena Williams admitted Saturday that the health dangers posed by the Zika virus in Rio ahead of the Olympics are a serious concern while Novak Djokovic pleaded for the impact on Brazilians not to be under-estimated.

"It's something that's been on my mind. I'm really just gonna have to go super protected," said 34-year-old Williams, the defending Olympic champion, after making the last-16 of the French Open with a 6-4, 7-6 (12/10) win over home hope Kristina Mladenovic.

Talk about the locals not just people heading to Rio Djokovic on Zikas threat to Olympics

Novak Djokovic. AP

An open letter addressed to the World Health Organisation (WHO) signed by 150 international doctors, scientists and researchers Friday called for the August Games to be moved or delayed to help prevent the spread of Zika.

Holding the Games in Rio, the second worst affected city in Brazil, would be "irresponsible" and "unethical" and could risk spreading the virus to "poor, as-yet unaffected places" like Africa and South Asia.

However, the WHO said moving the Olympics would not have a major impact on the spread of Zika.

The tennis event in Rio has already been hit by withdrawals although not necessarily health-related.

So far, 17th-ranked John Isner of the United States, Austrian 15th seed Dominic Thiem, Bernard Tomic, the world number 22 from Australia and Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, 23 in the rankings, have all announced they are giving the Olympics a miss.

They were joined on Saturday by former Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis who panned the sport's appearance at the Olympics as "tennis tourism".

That group of no-shows could still be joined by 2008 champion Rafael Nadal if the Spaniard fails to recover from the wrist tendon injury which caused him to withdraw from the French Open on Friday.

Men's world number one Djokovic said any talk of cancelling or moving the Olympics was unrealistic.

He also believes that the international coverage afforded to the Zika virus ignores the concerns of local people.

"To cancel the Olympic Games is unthinkable, honestly. I mean, many athletes and people already planned in advance," said the Serb after his 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Britain's Aljaz Bedene on Saturday.

"Of course we have to have common sense that health is the most important for anybody that is there. But we should not only think about people coming in Rio. How about those people living there, you know? Not talking about them too much. So I think we have to look from different perspectives in order to make a right conclusion."

The controversial Gulbis, who also made the fourth round in Paris on Saturday, said he had no desire at all to represent Latvia at the Olympics.

"I really don't like that in the Olympic Games that there is no points and no prize money. It's a little bit like tennis tourism," he said.

Updated Date:

also read

French Open 2021: Serena Williams continues quest for 24th Grand Slam title; Alexander Zverev makes last 16
Sports

French Open 2021: Serena Williams continues quest for 24th Grand Slam title; Alexander Zverev makes last 16

Stefanos Tsitsipas is well-fancied to reach his maiden Grand Slam final, with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer all in the other half of the draw.

French Open 2021: 'Mentally dominant,' Twitter reacts to Novak Djokovic's comeback win in final
Sports

French Open 2021: 'Mentally dominant,' Twitter reacts to Novak Djokovic's comeback win in final

Here's how Twitter reacted to Novak Djokovic's impressive come-from-behind win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open 2021 final!

French Open 2021: Tsitsipas showed he’s ready to take baton from Big 3; Krejcikova’s win demonstrated depth of women’s tennis
Sports

French Open 2021: Tsitsipas showed he’s ready to take baton from Big 3; Krejcikova’s win demonstrated depth of women’s tennis

Two of the game’s biggest mysteries were solved at the French Open last week: ‘How to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open' and 'Who will take over the mantle from the big three?'