Olympians facing their share of hurdles this summer

With fears over feces in the water taking a No. 2 (if you will) to bigger fecundity-related fears borne from the threat of Zika and would-be babies born with microcephaly, will and/or should the results and medals won in these Olympics be as asterisk-laden as Major League Baseball's batting-based record books?

A significant number of would-be Summer Olympians have already bowed out and/or declined invitations to compete, citing their own baby-making agenda-related boycotts of sorts.


The history of the indefatigability of the sexual appetites and/or exploits of the athletes in the Olympic Villages is well-documented, including the recently-released news that there will be 450,000 condoms distributed and/or available (100,000 of which are female condoms) in this iteration of the Athletes' Village.

But, is a baby-making boycott justifiable? Is the chance to win an Olympic medal worth waiting and/or abstaining for a few weeks or a couple months after the Games?


(Experts seem to suggest women wait up to 8 weeks, and men up to 6 months after infection before getting back to baby-making fun-times.)

Isn't the sort of sex that goes on in the Athletes' Village the sort that's just for sport anyway?

And, what about all that "Poop Water" as Deadspin called it back in March? Should the best athletes in the world be made to compete in water that is dangerously polluted?

Various versions of Olympic Trials are being held during the latter part of this week, including those for swimming and track and field. Training camps are being held for various team sports too, including for men's and women's basketball.

But, some of the more interesting headlines, and what will likely dominate the storylines throughout the games, particularly if certain teams and/or athletes end up getting upset by those that are or would otherwise be underdogs, have to do with those athletes who have declined invitations to represent their countries because of Zika- and microcephaly-related fears.

And, what part of the blame and/or responsibility for any will-be diluted pool of athletes competing in the Rio Games is justifiably put on corrupt leaders and decision-makers awarding the various Games and other global sporting events to otherwise and/or patently problem-plagued places?

The Olympics should feature the best-of-the-best competing to be the best in the world; not the best of the rest — those who aren't deterred by dirty water or the (relatively short term) potential/threat of birth defects. And, the Olympics as a spectator sport should not be more lightly attended because of such attendant circumstances.

Maybe some athletes (particularly, potentially those participating in team sports) are using Zika fears as pretense to enjoy a little more relaxation during their off-season. Maybe, for some athletes, the Olympics and/or a sense of sports as a vehicle for nationalism doesn't mean much.

Maybe both motivations are fine.

But, should the pomp and circumstance, and celebration of the Olympics as an in-person spectator sport be made to suffer for or from fears of transmitted-by-mosquito (or by sexual intercourse) Zika Fever, or from the furor over feces in the water in which Olympic athletes will be competing?

Michael Phelps will be going for Olympic immortality in Rio (if he hasn't achieved as much already). Carmelo Anthony will be going for an unprecedented third gold in men's basketball. And yet, most of the pre-Olympic headlines are about who's backing out; about filthy, fecal water, and literal and figurative Zika Fever.

Luckily for fans and for Phelps, Rio won't need Carl Spackler cleaning poo out of the Olympic swimming pool; and, Melo and his wife La La Vasquez already have a son, so Zika-related fears seem to be a non-issue for him/them.


Good luck to friends and the kids of friends competing in the various versions of this week's U.S. Olympic Trials.

Hopefully, by the time the games open in Rio, the poo will have receded or been remediated from the waters; and, people, at least the athletes, will realize that unless they're on a training-like regimen to get (their significant other) pregnant, a couple months' wait, and/or a few weeks of safe sex is a reasonable sacrifice for the chance to represent their country and to compete for a gold medal.

But, here's to neither being issues for future Olympics.


Recommended on Baltimore Sun