Olympic Canoe Team Says Zika Won't Keep Them From Rio

A group of athletes preparing for the Olympics in Maryland say they are ready to take on Rio -- despite the risk of contracting the Zika virus.

The U.S. Olympic Canoe Slalom team trained Friday at the Dickerson Whitewater Course in Montgomery County.

Competitors said Zika is not their main concern as they go for their goal of winning the 2016 Olympic Games.

"We're an outdoor sport....we're not unfamiliar with things like mosquitoes. So, we're taking the same precautions: bringing the bug spray, bringing the long sleeves," said Casey Eichfeld, a three-time Olympian.

"You know, we've gotten a lot of questions on Zika and I think you have to realize that the Rio 2016 campaign and the US Olympic committee has done a lot of work to try to keep us healthy," said Ashley Nee, who is from Darnestown, Maryland, and grew up paddling the Dickerson course.

The athletes spend hours on the water, but said reports of contaminated water in Rio won't deter them from competing because they will be competing on a man-made whitewater course that uses chlorinated water.

"We have a brand new facility with chlorinated water that's recirculated through pumps and actually every time it goes through the pump it gets cleaner," said Michal Smolen, who won the bronze medal in the 2015 World Championships.

However, the Olympic rowing teams will compete on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio -- a body of water where mosquitoes can congregate.

“The health and welfare of US Rowing athletes is always a top priority,” Allison Muller, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Rowing Association, told NBC News. “The USRowing medical committee…is actively engaged in the discussion and development of a Zika virus plan.”

On Wednesday, Cyclist Tejay van Garderen removed his name from consideration for the U.S. team that will compete in the Rio Olympics, the Washington Post reports.

Van Garderen is concerned that, if he contracted Zika, he could pass it along to his pregnant wife, the Post said.

Brazilian officials have brushed off concerns.

“Brazil has faced other crises and Brazilians have always worked together to overcome difficulties. It will not be different this time,” a spokesperson for Brazil’s Sports Ministry told NBC News. “The Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place in an atmosphere of peace, harmony and will be successful.”

Last month, health experts urged the World Health Organization to consider moving the Olympics, but WHO said there is "no public health justification" for changing the location because of the Zika outbreak.

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