Milos Raonic to skip Rio Olympics over Zika fears

Canada’s Milos Raonic plays a backhand shot during the Men's Singles first round match against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain on Day 1 of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27th, 2016 in London. Julian Finney/Getty Images

Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic announced Friday he has withdrawn from Rio 2016 Olympic Games due to the “uncertainty around the Zika virus.”

“After much deliberation with my family and coaches, I am making this decision for a variety of health concerns including the uncertainty around the Zika virus,” Raonic said in a statement. “This was a difficult, personal choice and I do not wish for it to impact the decision of any other athlete heading to the Games.”

Raonic is the first Canadian to withdraw from the Games while citing concerns over the Zika virus.

Several high-profile athletes have said they will skip the Games over concerns of contracting the virus.

READ MORE: Athletes starting to pull out of Rio Olympics over Zika fears

In May, Australian golfer Marc Leishman was among the first professional golfers to announce his intentions of not attending the Rio Olympics.

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“Last April my children and I almost lost my wife Audrey to toxic shock syndrome. Since then, Audrey has been prone to infection and is far removed from 100 per cent recovery of her immune system,” Leishman said in a statement through PGA Australia. “We have consulted with Audrey’s physician and due to her ongoing recovery and potential risks associated with the transmission of the Zika virus it was a difficult yet easy decision not to participate.”

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that has been found to cause underdeveloped brains in babies born to women infected while pregnant. It’s also potentially linked to neurological disorders in some infected children and adults.

Leishman is the second Australian golfer to pull out of the Summer Olympics. In April, Adam Scott, who ranks 7th in world PGA Tour rankings, cited a busy playing schedule as his reason for dropping out. However, the golfer did have concerns over the virus.

“I have not used it as an excuse although it would be very convenient to do so. It is only part of my concerns,” Scott told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I will say when the World Health Organisation has serious concerns over the impact that hundreds of thousands of people flooding into Rio is going to have I think we should listen.”

This is the first time golf has returned to the Olympics since 1904.

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READ MORE: Is the Zika virus a public health risk or an Olympic-size overreaction?

Late last month, world No. 1 golfer Jason Day said he is skipping the Games specificialy because of the Zika virus.

“The sole reason for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family,” Day said in a statement. “I have always placed my family in front of everything else in my life.”

Rory McIlroy also joined the chorus of Olympic drop-outs last month.

“After speaking with those closest to me, I’ve come to realize that my health and my family’s health comes before anything else,” the fourth-ranked golfer said in a statement.

Raonic, ranked No. 7 in the world said he looks “forward to cheering on Team Canada this summer.”

“I would like to thank Tennis Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee for their ongoing support. I am very proud to have competed for Canada at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, and on the world stage at several Davis Cup events,” the Thornhill native said.

READ MORE: World No. 1 golfer Jason Day withdraws from Rio Olympics over Zika fears

In a statement, Tennis Canada said it respected Raonic’s decision.

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“We fully respect Milos’ decision as we are sure this is not one he made easily,” said Kelly Murumets, president and CEO of Tennis Canada. “Milos represents Canada proudly week after week around the world and we look forward to future opportunities for him to join Team Canada again on the court.”

with a file from The Associated Press

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