Sailors heading to Olympics talk Zika virus

Posted at 5:36 PM, Feb 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-08 17:36:50-05

Sailors from more than 20 countries are competing in Clearwater Beach this week. Some are prepping for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro despite the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil.

U.S. Olympic officials said athletes worried about the Zika virus should stay home.

The team from Australia isn't deterred.

"It's great to already be selected for the Olympic games. We're obviously very excited, but we're aiming for gold there, so we've got a lot of work to do," Lisa Darmanin said.
They're heading to Brazil in six months, where the Zika virus outbreak is in full force.

"I'm not pregnant so that's not going to affect me. So I'm not too worried about it," said Jason Waterhouse of the Australian team. "We just have to concentrate on what we have to do, which is to win."

The athletes well-being is now a major concern. The German team is still hoping to qualify to sail in Rio de Janeiro.

"I think there are ways to prepare ourselves that we feel good if we travel there," said Leah Spitzmann of the German team.

Rio de Janeiro city officials say they'll fumigate daily, aiming to keep mosquitos away. The sailors say nothing can keep them away from the chance at the gold, not even the Zika virus.

"We're there for a gold medal, and we'll fight everything that comes in our way," Darmanin said.

Competitions off Clearwater Beach start Tuesday and will wrap up Feb. 14. You can watch the races at Pier 60.

For more information about the event, visit