US Women's Soccer Team Receives Briefing About Zika Before Rio Olympics Competition
The US National Women's Soccer Team received briefing Tuesday regarding the ongoing Zika health crisis linked to numerous cases of neurological birth defects particularly microcephaly in Latin America before the opening of Olympic qualification games in Texas.
"I think at this point the focus is certainly we want to not distract from the performance piece. We haven't qualified, so talking about Rio right now for me is not something that's in my scope. But I think we're certainly sensitive to the fact that this has become a global issue," remarked team coach Jill Ellis as quoted by CBS-DFW.
But fear of Zika infection seems to have worried high profile players. Goalkeeper Hope Solo, for example, feels extremely uncomfortable about going to Rio de Janeiro while the Zika virus rages on as she plans on having a baby with her husband- former NFL player Jerramy Stevens.
"I would never take the risk of having an unhealthy child. 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," said Solo as mentioned in a report by Fox News Latino.
Furthermore, the goalie told Sports Illustrated that if she were to make a decision today, she'd rather not go.
Meanwhile, the Zika threat is increasingly becoming a nightmare for Brazil as the Rio Olympics approaches this summer. Despite the health scare, organizers are confident that the games will push through as planned.
"Rio will welcome the world and its athletes to a very safe environment. The rate of infections due to mosquito bites drops drastically and virtually reaches zero," said Brazil's Olympic Committee communications director Mario Andrada in a news story covered by the Los Angeles Times.