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Zika virus fear won't keep Northern Ireland stars from Rio Olympics

By Nevin Farrell

Published 30/05/2016

Ryan Seaton
Ryan Seaton
Michael Conlan
Ciara Mageean

Athletes from Northern Ireland set to compete in this summer's Rio Olympics have said concerns over the Zika virus will not put them off flying to Brazil.

Pregnant women and those trying for a baby have been warned of the dangers posed by the virus and British experts have advised mothers-to-be not to attend the 2016 Games in Rio.

Most of those infected with Zika have no symptoms, but it can cause microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads.

Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy has already said he is worried about Zika, as he thinks about starting a family. But Belfast boxer Michael Conlan (23) is unconcerned, as he has no plans to have more kids.

Last night, three Team Ireland Olympians from the province said they were undeterred.

Ryan Seaton (28) a sailor from Carrick, said: "We have been informed about the Zika virus and are making preparations with sprays and things. We have spent a lot of time in Rio over the past two or three years. It is not putting me off, my goal is to go there and win a medal."

Ciara Mageean (24), a runner from Portaferry, said: "We have been given all of the information regarding every vaccine we can get and all the medical advice. There are risks to travelling to a lot of the places in the world and I don't think the Irish team would recommend us going somewhere if they thought there was a huge health risk

"I am not letting it affect my preparations for the games or my mindset

Aileen Reid (33), a Londonderry triathlete, said: "We have had plenty of information on the subject and I'm told there's more chance of contracting dengue fever. There are health risks in many places, it's also just about taking precautions."

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