US & Canada

Puerto Rico baseball games moved due to players' Zika fears

Pittsburgh Pirates players file Image copyright AP
Image caption The Pittsburgh Pirates were scheduled to play the Miami Marlins

Two Major League Baseball games that were scheduled to be played in Puerto Rico have been moved due to players' concerns about the Zika virus.

The games between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins have been moved to Miami instead.

Players said they were worried about contracting the virus and passing it to their partners.

Zika is suspected to cause birth defects in babies whose mothers had it while pregnant.

Zika: What you need to know

Puerto Rico recorded its first death from Zika last week.

The island has seen more than 600 cases of the virus.

In a statement, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) said Commissioner of Baseball Robert D Manfred Jr "had no choice" but to relocate the games because so many players had partners who were pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

The statement also said baseball would hopefully be played in Puerto Rico again "in the near future" and that those concerned would "continue to support the growth of the game in Puerto Rico, where an outstanding baseball tradition has long made the island an important venue for the game".

More than 20 countries are reporting cases of Zika, which is spread by mosquitoes.

The country which has been worst affected by the outbreak, Brazil, is due to host the Olympic Games in August 2016.

The authorities there said in February that there was no chance the Games would be cancelled due to the outbreak, and that there was no risk to players or spectators except for pregnant women.

Since then, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said sexually transmitted transmission of Zika is more common than previously thought.

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