First American athlete, a cyclist, withdraws from Rio due to Zika

Fourth-Place Medal
Tejay van Garderen has withdrawn from Rio Games consideration because of Zika concerns. (AP file photo)
Tejay van Garderen has withdrawn from Rio Games consideration because of Zika concerns. (AP file photo)

American cyclist Tejay van Garderen has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Rio Olympics out of concern for contracting the Zika virus. Van Garderen's wife is pregnant, and he feared contracting the mosquito-borne illness and passing it to her. He is believed to be the first American athlete to decline the Games specifically because of the virus.

Cycling officials said van Garderen is the only cyclist to withdraw his name from consideration. USA Cycling will announce its Rio team on June 24. The 27-year-old van Garderen would have been a likely choice for one of the two cycling spots.

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Rio officials have insisted that cases of Zika will drop in the next two months, and that there is no compelling public health risk to warrant moving or postponing the Games. 

Several athletes have expressed concern about the possibility of contracting the virus. Golfers Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman have already declined to play in the Olympics because of Zika concerns. Rory McIlroy, former world No. 1, had initially said he could skip the Games, but has since relaxed that stance following consultation with doctors.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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