Park to seek Zika advice before Olympics
World number two golfer Park In-Bee on Wednesday said she planned to seek advice about the Zika virus before heading to this year’s Rio Olympics.
Park and her husband, who are planning to start a family within the next few years, both said they were concerned about the outbreak when questioned before the HSBC Women’s Champions.
But South Korea’s Park, the defending champion in Singapore, is also determined to compete for a medal when golf returns as an Olympic sport for the first time in 112 years.
The virus’ spread has been linked to a rise in microcephaly, in which an infected mother’s baby is born with an abnormally small head, in Brazil, which will host the Games in August.
“I really haven’t been following (news of Zika) that much, you just get more scary once you hear so much more about it,” said Park, who wed her coach Nam Gi-Hyeob in late 2014.
“So I just want to let it go for a little bit and then just start talking to a doctor or people who are there to see how bad it is,” the 27-year-old told AFP.
But the seven-time major winner said she was determined to compete in Rio, the first time golf will feature at the Olympics since 1904.
“Not many things can stop me from going and competing for the country. We’re going to try hard and if it’s not so dangerous a situation we’ll definitely be going. It’s not that bad right now from what I’ve heard,” Park said.
Nam, Park’s swing coach since 2011, said he was “a little bit worried” about his wife’s participation in Rio.
But, with Park interpreting for him, he added: “Competing is going to be a great experience for her, it’s not so much about the medal.”
Competition to reach Rio will be intense among South Korean players, who currently number nine in the women’s world top 20.
The International Golf Federation (IGF) has been restricted to a field of 60 players each in the men’s and women’s competitions in Rio.
Players in the top 15 of the world rankings are eligible but no more than four can come from any one country, according to the IGF website.
World number one Lydia Ko of New Zealand said on Tuesday that she was confident authorities will manage the Zika situation.
“I’m pretty sure the LPGA, the Olympic committees and everybody involved are trying to handle it right now. Everybody is going to try and do their best to help and fix the solution,” she said.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach has said that the IOC will “do everything” in its power to keep the Games safe.
He also stressed that August is winter season in Brazil, something which should help mitigate the problem.