Global Sports Columnist: It’s Worth The Risk

From the economy to the violence to Zika, there are many reasons not to go to Rio for the Olympics. New York Times global sports columnist Christopher Clarey, however, will be in Brazil – and he isn’t too concerned about it.

“I think I’d be a little bit more concerned if there weren’t about 10,000 people going in the same direction,” Clarey joked on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think we’re all heading down there. I can’t imagine that there’s not a high level of security once you’re inside the Olympic perimeter. The thing about it is – this is going to be my 14th Olympics, counting Winter Games – there’s always a lot of negativity going in. There was a huge amount about Sochi. But I’ve never seen anything quite like this where there’s so much negativity across so many different sectors, so many different domains. We’re reporters, we’re down there to work. But going down there, you want people to be able to enjoy it who are there. And to spend all that money and all that effort to host it – I just got to think that people in Rio and in Brazil have got bigger concerns than an Olympics right now. It feels like they’re kind of having a party in the wrong place, frankly.”

Some athletes are so concerned about Brazil that they have opted not to participate in the Games. Others, not so much.

“Athletes, like all of us, it’s a real mix of people who are really tapped in and clued in and others who are not really thinking about that,” Clarey said. “The ones I’ve talked to who are tapped in and clued in. They’re taking their cues from the World Health Organization and from the Olympic Committee. If they’re told by them that there’s a risk or a problem, then they’re going to listen to it pretty seriously.”

To participate or not to participate also depends on the sport – and gender.

“(Track and field) athletes, that’s their big opportunity – and they know it,” Clarey said. “Almost all of (the women’s golfers) are going to go, (whereas) the men’s golfers – the top guys like Dustin Johnson, Jason day and Rory McIlroy – have pulled out. But the top women are going because it’s so important to them for their careers and huge exposure potentially. Nobody’s not thinking about it, (but) I think everybody sort of feels like it’s worth the risk at the moment.”

In other news, Serena Williams won her seventh Wimbledon title this past weekend to tie Steffi Graf with 22 major championships. Williams, who beat Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 in the Wimbledon final Saturday, now trails only Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24.

“Very strong tournament (for Williams),” Clarey said. “A lot of it with Serena has to do with her mood and how things are going off the court and how she feels about life. I think it took her awhile to recover from that huge blow at the U.S. Open last year when she got upset in the semis with a lot of our country watching. You could tell she was back to what her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, would call ‘The Real Serena’ again. That’s what it felt like.”

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