Jordan Spieth Is The Latest Texas Athlete Staying Out Of The 2016 Olympics
In announcing his withdrawal from Rio, Spieth joins a growing list of prominent Texas athletes choosing to stay home.
Golfer Jordan Spieth has dropped out of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the International Golf Federation announced on Monday. Spieth had previously indicated that he was worried about the Zika epidemic in Brazil, and that appears to be the main reason for his withdrawal.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas native said at a tournament earlier in July that he was also concerned about “security threats,” transportation issues, and “other bacteria stuff”—likely referring to reports that a drug-resistant bacteria was discovered in the waters surrounding Rio. “If I feel like there’s any significant threat, then is it worth it?” Spieth asked. “Probably not.”
Plenty of other athletes share that sentiment. The vast majority of athletes who have withdrawn from the Olympics so far are male golfers and NBA players, sports that just so happen to include some of Texas’s most visible athletes. Houston Rockets star James Harden pulled out in early June, and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs withdrew later that month. Neither gave specific reasons for their withdrawals. Leonard’s teammate LaMarcus Aldridge is also staying put as he recovers from a finger injury.
Carly Patterson, a former gold medal-winning gymnast from Texas, said in June that she wouldn’t be traveling to Rio to watch the Olympics because she’s trying to get pregnant. If pregnant women are infected Zika the disease can potentially cause birth defects in the child, and Patterson’s doctor advised her not to make the trip. According to People magazine, Patterson turned down opportunities to be an ambassador for U.S.A. Gymnastics and a correspondent for the Today show.
— Carly Patterson (@CarlyPatterson) June 3, 2016
Spurs point guard Tony Parker is in, looking to guide his native France to a medal before he retires from international competition. But according to the San Antonio Express-News, Parker’s kids and his pregnant wife won’t be going with him. Ex-University of Texas star Kevin Durant and recent Dallas Mavericks signee Harrison Barnes are both set to compete in Rio too.
There are still plenty of Texans to look for in other events, like decathlete Trey Hardee (a University of Texas grad who lives in Austin), taekwondo competitor Steven Lopez (a native of Sugar Land), and gymnast Simone Biles (from Spring). But with only a few weeks until the games kick off, and conditions in Rio not showing signs of improvement, the list of Texans to root for could continue to shrink.