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RIO 2016 | Basketball

Pau Gasol froze sperm ahead of Olympics due to Zika fears

The Spanish basketball superstar took the decision before travelling to Rio, following the example of other high-profile athletes such as Great Britain's Greg Rutherford

BAS18. RÍO DE JANEIRO (BRASIL), 3/8/2016.- (i-d) Los jugadores de la selección española de baloncesto, el alero Rudy Fernández, el pivot Pau Gasol y el base Ricky Rubio observan el partido de entrenamiento ante Australia hoy, miércoles 3 de agosto de 2016, en el Parque de los Atletas en Rio de Janeiro (Brasil). EFE/Jorge Zapata

Spanish basketball star Pau Gasol froze his sperm ahead of travelling to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics owing to his fears over the Zika virus, according to El Confidencial.

The San Antonio Spurs player had already expressed his concern over the effects of the virus (there is currently an ongoing epidemic in Brazil) in recent weeks, saying that the situation is "grave and important”. Gasol took the decision to go to the games after pondering the issue for a few days before finally visiting the Valencian Insitute of Infertility in order to hand over a deposit of his semen.

Pau Gasol
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Pau GasolJavier CebolladaEFE

Severe brain anomalies in infected infants

The Zika virus can cause microcephaly and other severe brain anomalies in newborn infants if passed on to them from a parent.

While many athletes have already dropped out of the Olympic Games (which officially begins on Friday), citing Zika fears, others – like Gasol – have also had their sperm frozen before going to Brazil. Reigning Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford is one the more high-profile athletes who have done so.