Canada’s best chance at a medal in Olympic tennis has pulled out due to health concerns in host city Rio de Janeiro. Milos Raonic announced the news on Friday, mentioning the Zika virus in his reasoning.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my withdrawal from participation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” said Raonic in a media release from Tennis Canada. “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. 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. 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. I look forward to cheering on Team Canada this summer.”
The Zika virus, which is most commonly spread by mosquitoes, is just one of many health concerns raised concerning Rio.
“We fully respect Milos’ decision as we are sure this is not one he made easily,” said Kelly Murumets, president and CEO, 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.”
Canada will nominate 43-year-old Daniel Nestor to replace Raonic in the men’s double draw with Vasek Pospisil, pending invitation by the International Tennis Federation and the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Raonic made Canadian tennis history last week at Wimbledon, becoming the first Canadian male to make it to a Grand Slam singles final.
The Olympic tournament comes at an inopportune time for pro tennis players, as it’s sandwiched in between Wimbledon and the the US Open. The US Open in New York begins just 15 days after the Olympic tournament concludes in Rio.