US soccer's Solo unlikely to play in Rio Games, worried about Zika

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 25, 2016 9:44 AM

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Renowned U.S. soccer player Hope Solo said Thursday she was unlikely to join her teammates for the Rio Olympic Games without more information about Zika as she hoped to have children and was concerned about the virus' health effects.

"Until I know more, I don't feel like I can make a really informative decision... If things stood as they are right now, I probably would not go," she said in an interview on CBS' "This Morning" program.

Solo, the 34-year-old goalkeeper who helped the U.S. Women's team capture the World Cup last summer, said she was not making a final decision immediately. She was hopeful adequate measures would be taken to contain the spread of Zika in the five months before the start of the Games in Brazil, where the mosquito-borne virus has been linked to thousands of birth defects.

The United States Olympic Committee has told U.S. sports federations that athletes and staff concerned for their health should consider not going to the Games.

"I hope we get some clear, concrete answers very soon," she said. "I'm a little skeptical to be honest ... it's scary, and I have a lot of reservations about going to the Olympics," she said, citing the World Health Organizations warning on Wednesday that the Zika outbreak would likely get worse before improving.

WHO declared the outbreak an international health emergency on Feb. 1, citing a likely strong relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly, a birth defect where an infant's head is smaller than those of other babies of the same gender and age. Scientists were also studying a potential link to Guillain-Barre, a disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves and can cause paralysis.

One of the world's most famous players, Solo said that not all of her teammates, who vary in age and may not want children, would skip the Games, and that the team remained focused on clinching the gold medal following their World Cup championship.

"First and foremost we want to be back-to-back champions. It's never been done before, and I want to be part of that" she told CBS.

She said that at some point, she would want to start a family. She is married to former National Football League player Jerramy Stevens, 35.

"I don't to be worried, I don't want those anxieties, I don't want the constant tests. I don't want to risk the safety of a child, the health of a child," Solo said.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)