FRISCO, Texas (AP) _ U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo asserted that if the Olympics were held today, she would not go out of concern about the Zika virus.
Solo’s apprehension about the Rio Games this summer was first reported by Sports Illustrated this week. She reiterated those comments following the U.S. team’s 5-0 victory over Costa Rica on Wednesday night to open the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
“All I can do is speak for myself. If the Olympics were today, I would not go,” she said. “Fortunately, the Olympics are six months away. So, I believe we have some time to get our doubts and questions answered.”
Zika virus has spread rapidly in Latin America. Transmitted by mosquitoes, most people have few symptoms. But it is suspected of causing microcephaly, a birth defect marked by an abnormally small head. Pregnant women are urged to avoid travel to affected areas.
Rio organizers have maintained that the August event will not be canceled. The Olympics will also be held in Brazil’s winter, when colder temperatures should reduce the mosquito population.
The U.S. national team has already held one briefing on the virus, and another is set for Thursday.
On Wednesday night U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun sent a letter Wednesday to all possible Olympians, acknowledging the growing worries.
“I know that the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil is of concern to many of you,” Blackmun wrote. “I want to emphasize that it is to us, as well, and that your well-being in Rio this summer is our highest priority.”
The USOC will hire two infectious disease specialists to advise potential Olympians who are worried about the Zika outbreak in Brazil.
“We have a little bit of time to figure things out,” Solo said. “Our team hasn’t said we’re not going unless this happens. Hopefully, there are some things that can be done.”