In an interview Tuesday with CNBC, U.S. women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo said she would “begrudgingly” participate in the Rio Olympics despite her worries about the Zika virus, which can cause birth defects in newborns. This confirms the reversal of her position from February, when Solo said she likely wouldn’t attend the Games if she had to decide then.
But don’t expect her to be hanging around the Olympic village or anything like that.
“I’m not sure I’m even going to be leaving the hotel room, outside of practice,” she said.
The U.S. women are coming off last year’s World Cup title and have won three straight Olympic gold medals. That’s a driving force for Solo, who was the starting goalkeeper for the Americans in the last two Games.
“It’s never been done where we’ve won the World Cup and backed it with an Olympic championship,” she said.
Health officials across the globe have advised women who are pregnant or hope to become pregnant to avoid travel to countries where Zika is prevalent, and Brazil has been the country hardest hit by the virus. Partners of women also have been warned, because the virus can be transmitted sexually. In March, the U.S. Olympic Committee said it would provide athletes with guidance and information about Zika but would leave decisions about participation up to then.
Solo doesn’t exactly seem reassured by that.
“I strongly believe that no athlete should be put into this position — to decide between your Olympic dreams and your own health,” she said Tuesday.
In a recent Instagram post, Brazilian soccer legend Rivaldo advised foreigners to avoid travel to the Games because of Zika and the country’s unstable political and social environment.
“Things are getting uglier here every day,” Rivaldo wrote. “I advise everyone with plans to visit Brazil for the Olympics in Rio to stay in their country of origin.
“Your life will be in danger here,” he continued. “This is without even speaking about the state of public hospitals and all the Brazilian political mess. Only God can change the situation in our Brazil.”