Florida - Despite an outbreak of the Zika
virus, Michael Phelps says his fiancé and new-born son will accompany him to
the Rio Olympics.
Nicole Johnson is due to give birth to the
couple's first child in May. She is with Phelps this week at the Arena Pro
Series meet in Orlando, Florida, one of the key tune-up events for the Olympics
that begin Aug. 5.
Zika has become an epidemic in Latin
America and the Caribbean since last fall. The virus is mainly spread through
mosquito bites and has been potentially linked to birth defects.
"We're not worried about it,"
Phelps said. "I think if you go into any Olympics, there's always
something that comes up."
Of course, it would be a different story if
Johnson was scheduled to deliver after the games.
"If she was pregnant, she definitely
wouldn't go," Phelps said. "But she's fine about it. She's not
missing it. And I wouldn't want the little guy to miss it either. He won't be
able to remember it. But he'll have a story to tell."
Two of the top US female swimmers, Katie
Ledecky and Missy Franklin, have no concerns about competing in Rio.
The 18-year-old Ledecky, expected to be one
of the biggest American stars, said the US Olympic Committee has done a good
job keeping the athletes informed about the potential risks and steps it is
taking to ensure their safety.
"I'm confident," she said,
"that we'll be able to go to Rio and be prepared for all the
Franklin, who won four gold medals at the
2012 London Games, expressed a similar sentiment.
"Whenever we go to new countries, USA
Swimming and the USOC prepare us for whatever we're going into," the
20-year-old Franklin said. "I know this will be no different."
In fact, she's hoping to stay in Rio a few
extra days after the Olympics.
"I'm so excited. I've heard so many
great things about the culture there," said Franklin, who has never been
to South America. "That's my favourite part of traveling, experiencing the
culture and the people."