U.S. goalie Hope Solo said she would not go to the Rio Olympics if she had to choose today, citing being uncomfortable with the current situation in Brazil including the Zika virus, according to SI.com.
Pregnant women are at risk from the mosquito-borne, Brazil-based virus, Rio Games organizers medical director Dr. Joao Grangeiro said last week, according to The Associated Press.
It has sometimes been associated with a brain birth defect.
Olympic soccer matches will be held not only in Rio but also several other Brazilian cities that may have more mosquitoes and a greater Zika risk.
“No athlete competing in Rio should be faced with this dilemma,” Solo, a two-time Olympic champion, said, according to SI.com. “Female professional athletes already face many different considerations and have to make choices that male professional athletes don’t.
“We accept these particular choices as part of being a woman, but I do not accept being forced into making the decision between competing for my country and sacrificing the potential health of a child, or staying home and giving up my dreams and goals as an athlete. Competing in the Olympics should be a safe environment for every athlete, male and female alike. Female athletes should not be forced to make a decision that could sacrifice the health of a child.”
Grangeiro said the athletes would not be at risk during the Olympics in August, that there will be fewer mosquitoes in Brazil’s winter (opposite the U.S. summer), according to the AP.
“We will not have an epidemic or pandemic situation,” Grangeiro said, according to the AP. “We can’t say we won’t have any cases [during the Games], but we see this as a minimal risk.”
Solo and the U.S. women’s soccer team begin their Olympic qualifying tournament Wednesday (on NBC Sports Live Extra, full schedule here).