Hope Solo: Zika Virus Has Soccer Star Considering Skipping the Olympics

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Hope Solo is thinking of skipping the Olympics. The Olympic goalkeeper has concerns about contracting the Zika virus, and doesn't want to jeopardize any future pregnancies.

The 2016 Summer Olympics are scheduled for August 5-21 in Brazil, where the Zika virus is believed responsible for thousands of children born with microcephaly--a birth defect that causes babies to be born with small heads and brains. It typically results in brain damage.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Hope Solo shared her concerns.

“If I had to make the choice today, I wouldn’t go [to the Olympics],” she said on Monday.

Olympic soccer will take place in cities outside Rio—including Manaus, Salvador, Brasília, Belo Horizonte, and São Paulo. These cities have higher rates of mosquito-borne viruses than Rio de Janeiro.

“I would never take the risk of having an unhealthy child,” Hope Solo said. "I don’t know when that day will come for Jerramy and me, but I personally reserve my right to have a healthy baby. No athlete competing in Rio should be faced with this dilemma. 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," she added. "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.”

Hope Solo is married to former NFL player Jeremy Stevens. Surely the two have discussed the Zika virus issue at length, and are likely educating themselves as much as possible.

“The Zika virus is definitely a concern to me,” Solo said. “I’m obviously keeping an eye on what’s going on in the news. I do know that it’s spreading and they don’t really have a vaccination to treat it, so it’s definitely worrisome."

“But at the end of the day I think there are a lot of things that come up pre-Olympics that are somewhat concerns, and this is kind of a bigger concern than it was with Beijing and smog and London with potential terrorist attacks. But the place we’re at right now with Olympic qualifying, we’re pretty much focused on that right now, and we’ll track it to see what’s happening," she concluded. "We may be playing in Manaus, which is probably loaded with mosquitoes. But I’m sure our doctors will inform us and keep us in the loop as to what’s going on.”

Do you agree with the concerns Hope Solo is having regarding the Zika virus and her travels to Brazil for the Olympics? Could you put your Olympic dream ahead of your hopes for a future, healthy child?

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.