'It really sucks': Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard battles Zika fear over Olympic Games choice

World number 41 remains undecided about playing in Rio due to the threat posed by the virus which has already forced numerous stars across several sports to pull out

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 July, 2016, 1:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 July, 2016, 3:29pm

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard remains undecided about playing in the Olympic Games barely two weeks before the start with Zika virus fears stealing the joy from what would be her first appearance at the event.

“I don’t know what I’ll do at this point,” she said after a first round loss at the WTA and ATP Washington Open. “I’ll make the decision next week I guess.”

The mosquito-transmitted Zika virus causes severe illness and has been linked to birth defects, a factor causing the 22-year-old the greatest concern.

“I don’t know if the health of my future babies is worth it,” Bouchard said. “That’s what I’m trying to decide in my head.”

The world’s four top men’s golfers, paced by Australian Jason Day, have withdrawn from Rio and several top tennis players have followed, including Romanian world number five Simona Halep, Czech Tomas Berdych and Bouchard’s compatriot Milos Raonic, fresh from his Wimbledon runner-up effort.

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“I see more and more people drop out. Some golfers pulled out, the high profile ones. This gets you thinking,” Bouchard said.

“I’m trying to learn as much as I can about it. I don’t know if anyone knows enough about it.”

Tennis Canada officials said that Bouchard handled paperwork and plane flights and hotel rooms are booked.

“It’s just unfortunate to have this situation,” Bouchard said. “It really sucks to be honest. Maybe I will just wake up on the deadline and see.”

Bouchard, ranked 41st, was as high as fifth in the world in 2014, when she was the Wimbledon runner-up.

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After suffering a concussion last year when she slipped on the locker room floor at the US Open, the Montreal native has battled back to 41st in the rankings with finals runs this year in Hobart and Kuala Lumpur, but has not added to her lone WTA title won in Nurmeburg in 2014.

Italy’s Camila Giorgi ousted Bouchard 7-5, 6-4 in Washington, while Romanian eighth seed Monica Niculescu was sent packing by American Christina McHale 6-3, 6-4.

McHale played in the WTA event at Rio de Janeiro in February and felt confident in her Zika precautions for what was a summer event rather than a winter season one as the Olympics are.

“I think if you follow the instructions it will be OK,” McHale said. “I understand the concerns. It’s unfortunate it’s taking away from the atmosphere of it.”

McHale recalled wearing long-sleeved clothing and plenty of bug spray, saying, “I was applying it every second.”

“If they are still going to have it then it ought to be safe,” McHale said. “If I had made it, I would have gone.”