Two-time Olympic gold medal soccer star Hope Solo won’t go for the hat trick of a third gold medal if the U.S. women’s team qualifies to compete at the games in Brazil this summer because she fears contracting the Zika virus and says, “I would never take the risk of having an unhealthy child.”
“If I had to make the choice today, I wouldn’t go,” the goalkeeper, 34, told SI.com on Monday. Solo, wed to former NFL player Jerramy Stevens, isn’t currently pregnant or specifically planning to try to conceive but still isn’t taking any chances. “I don’t know when that day will come for Jerramy and me,” she continued, “but I personally reserve my right to have a healthy baby. No athlete competing in Rio should be faced with this dilemma.”
Solo and Stevens. (Photo: Getty Images)
The World Health Organization has declared Zika — linked in Brazil to the microcephaly birth defect in infants, which results in the head and brain not fully developing — an international health emergency. The CDC is warning American women to also be wary if they’re traveling to other parts of the world known to be dealing with the virus.
Photo: Getty Images
Solo’s coach, Jill Ellis, revealed at a news conference that there have been “constant conversations behind the scenes” about the virus, which Solo’s teammate Alex Morgan called, “a scary thing.” Morgan added that the virus is “very unknown for a lot of people, especially on the side of pregnant women who might want to get pregnant in the following years after the Olympics.“
Photo: Getty Images
And that includes Solo, who frankly said that she resents having to take the stand that she’s taken over the dilemma. “Female professional athletes already face many different considerations and have to make choices that male professional athletes don’t,” she told SI.com. “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.”