Andy Murray set to defend Olympic title despite Zika virus concerns

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros - John Isner of the US v Andy Murray of Britain

Andy Murray is still committed to defending his Olympic gold medal, despite growing concerns that the Zika virus will dissuade many athletes from going to Rio in August.

The world No2 will make his decision after accepting guidance from the Foreign Office and British Olympic Association about the danger the virus poses, and will be heartened by the World Health Organisation’s dismissal this week of concerns by leading health experts who say the International Olympic Committee should consider changing the venue.

The WHO says moving the Games would “not significantly alter” the spread of the virus. However, unrelated political and economic problems have also cast a pall over the Games.

The International Tennis Federation president, David Haggerty, has just returned from Rio and is cautiously optimistic the Games will go ahead, despite witnessing problems at the tennis venue.

“There are always going to be challenges economically in Brazil,” Haggerty told the Guardian at the French Open. “The government is going through some changes. Even though everyone says things will be fine, I think you have to take everything with a grain of salt.

“I was down there not too long ago, saw the courts, saw the facilities. Things were coming along. They’re not completed yet. The lights weren’t finished, they’re still working on the court surrounds. But I felt confident and positive that when we get to ball-up and open the Games, we’ll be OK.

“We want to assure the athletes we’ll be working very closely with Rio, doing things to make sure it’s an Olympic experience for them. I know that cash flow is a problem for Rio and economically they’ve been challenged, but I think this is were sports need to step in where necessary to help and support each of their venues.

“The ITF has already had the discussion to get the coating for the courts. It’s being applied. We’re in the background and forefront, helping and contributing ideas, having meetings. We’re sending someone at a senior level down every two weeks to work. We’ll make sure we’ll have the best event that we can.”

Powered by article was written by Kevin Mitchell at Roland Garros, for on Tuesday 31st May 2016 11.17 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010