Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin has been to Rio. In fact, she went there in 2007 for the Pan Am Games and won gold and silver medals. Now 26, Liukin will return to Rio this summer – despite the issues plaguing Brazil – to help cover the Olympics for NBC.
“Well, I’m really fortunate to be going over there with NBC and commentating the entire time, so I know they’re going to have a great security team,” Liukin said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I’m pretty confident with that, and with everything else you just take the precautions. I’ve done my research and I’m really excited to be going over there. I think with every Olympic Games, there’s always some kind of concern, but you try to kind of put that besides you and realize and remember why you’re going: the excitement of the Olympic Games and the athletes. It’s been such a huge passion of mine, ever since I was a little girl.”
Not every athlete, however, feels the same way. From Zika to crime to violence to pollution, Rio isn’t the safest place to be right now. It’s important to represent your country, yes, but it’s also important for an athlete and his or her family to remain out of danger.
“I think it’s definitely a personal choice, and every single person has a different story and they’re at a different place in their lives,” Liukin said. “But as I’ve said, I’ve definitely thought about it. I’ve talked to my family, my friends and co-workers.”
Various pro golfers, including Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, have opted not to participate in the Games. In no way does Liukin think that they – or any athlete electing to stay home – should be criticized.
“I definitely respect their decision,” she said. “They obviously made this decision for a certain reason, so I definitely don’t criticize them for it. I think everybody deserves the right to be able to make whatever decision that they want to. For me, I’ve made that decision to still go over to Rio. Again, I’m really excited. There really is nothing like an Olympic Games. It’s going to be fun and it’s going to be exciting despite everything going on.”