MADRID — Spain’s Pau Gasol says he will consider freezing a sperm sample because of concerns over Zika if he decides to play in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“We are constantly learning more, but there is uncertainty about how long the virus remains in one’s blood,” Gasol said earlier this week in an appearance for the Pau Gasol Academy. “Many athletes are thinking about starting families, and in Brazil there are a million and a half people affected [by Zika]. If I confirm that I will play for the national team, freezing my sperm is one measure more to take.”
According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a man infected with Zika, who is displaying symptoms, can pass the disease to his female or male sex partners. The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to severe birth defects in infants born to women infected by Zika.
The 35-year-old Chicago Bulls center has yet to commit to playing for Spain. Gasol has led Spain to two consecutive silver medals after losing to the United States in the 2008 and 2012 finals.
“It is tough to say whether I am closer or farther away from playing in the Olympics because every day new information comes out. The worry about Zika continues,” Gasol said. “The reality continues to be worrisome, and there have been several NBA players who have decided not to play in Rio. It could be that the risk is slight, but it is still there. This is something that doesn’t just worry me but also my teammates and the rest of the delegation.
“We can’t take this health threat lightly. It doesn’t just affect pregnant women. A few days ago, the World Health Organization doubled the precautionary period for having sexual relations — from four to eight weeks. Who knows whether they will soon change it to 12? It is a serious subject.”
Last week, the partner of Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford said he would freeze a sample of his sperm because of fears of Zika.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.