LONDON, Feb 10, 2016:
Toni Minichiello, the coach of athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, wants the British Olympic Association to move their preparation camp for the 2016 Olympics to outside Brazil due to the Zika virus.
The BOA are planning to hold the camp in Belo Horizonte, where there has been an infestation of mosquitoes transmitting the virus, but Minichiello wants to talk to performance director Neil Black about a switch.
Some health experts in central America think that women should avoid getting pregnant until as late as 2018 because of the risk of the birth defects that the virus can cause.
Brit Ennis-Hill took a year out from the sport in 2014 after having a child, and returned with a world championship heptathlon title last year.
Minichiello said that he would not force Ennis-Hill to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
“Coaches have a duty of care and I certainly would not be encouraging an athlete to go anywhere that could have long-term effects. We should be looking at finding a camp that minimises the risk,” he told The Times.
“Coaches spend their lives trying to get athletes as healthy as possible. We have to try to minimise the risk, and that might mean flying in as late as possible.”
A BOA representative, however, maintains that the plans will not be adjusted.
“Our plan remains unchanged and on course for both the preparation camp and the Games,” he said.