It will not be until August when the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro begins, but if US
national team goalkeeper Hope Solo had to come to a decision today, she would rather skip
the event than contract the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
The virus, which has been causing international alarm after spreading through much of the Americas, is typically transmitted to people through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.
There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine available, and people who succumb to
this disease experience mild fever and skin rash for 2-7 days. These short term symptoms
are not the reasons why female athletes at the peak of their careers are having their guards up. Rather, the Zika virus is suspected to lead to a rise in cases of microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head.
“I would never take the risk of having an unhealthy child,” Solo said, according to SI.com. “I don’t know when that day would come for [husband] Jerramy [Stevens] and me, but I
personally reserve my right to have a healthy baby.”
Sensitive to the fact that the Zika virus has become a global issue, Solo added that all
athletes should compete under a safe Olympic environment–male and female alike.
Nevertheless, six months before the Olympics, she understands the importance of not
distracting herself from the performance piece. She is now in Texas, where the US team
begins qualifying on 10 January against Costa Rica.
On the other hand, Rio organisers have tried to allay the public’s fears that the Olympics
might be affected, maintaining that the games will go on as planned. Mosquito population is also expected to reduce due to colder temperatures since the $10 billion-budget event will be held in Brazil’s winter.
Trina Chong (4U)