Tennis player Baltacha out of Games over health fears

Elena Baltacha
Image caption Elena Baltacha has withdrawn from the Games

Scottish tennis player Elena Baltacha has withdrawn from Delhi's Commonwealth Games because she fears for her health.

The 27-year-old suffers from the chronic liver condition, primary sclerosing cholangitis, which weakens her immune system.

Baltacha said it was a hard decision, but going was too risky for her health.

Many countries taking part in the sporting event had been worried about the unfinished and hygienically poor state of the athletes' village.

However, guarantees had been made by the Game's authorities and members of Team Scotland began travelling to India on Saturday afternoon.

In a statement, Baltacha said: "After a lot of thought and discussion, I have taken the heartbreaking decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games.

"I am incredibly disappointed because I was really excited about playing for Scotland but conditions in Delhi, particularly in relation to Dengue fever, are such that going there would pose too high a risk to my health.

"I suffer from a liver condition which is linked to my immune system and makes me susceptible to picking up infections.

"At the age of 27 and after many years of hard work, I am now playing the best tennis of my career and I cannot afford to jeopardize that by getting ill."

Baltacha, who won a medal at the inaugural Commonwealth Youth Games in Edinburgh, added: "I will be cheering on Team Scotland with all my heart, in particular my fellow tennis players Mhairi, Joss, Colin and Jamie. I am very, very sad that I won't get to play alongside them."

Team Scotland's Jon Doig said he knew that the tennis player, who is Britain's number one women's player, was "gutted about having to make this decision".

He added: "Whilst we are obviously disappointed that Elena has decided to withdraw from the Games, we fully respect her decision.

"We understand that this is a very particular set of personal circumstances and this should not give cause for concern for other athletes, who we look forward to welcoming in Delhi over the next few days.

"We wish Elena all the very best with her career and look forward to seeing her continue to progress up the world rankings."

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