The spreading Zika virus that has been linked to microcephaly (abnormally small brains and heads) in newborn babies in Brazil and other countries has raised concerns about this summer’s Olympics in Brazil, and that includes concerns from high-profile athletes.
“If I had to make the choice today, I wouldn’t go [to the Olympics],” U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo told SI.com on Monday from Texas, where the U.S. women’s national team opens its Olympic qualifying tournament on Wednesday against Costa Rica.
Unlike other Olympic events, which will take place in the Rio de Janeiro area, Olympic soccer will be held in cities outside Rio—Manaus, Salvador, Brasília, Belo Horizonte and São Paulo—some of which have higher rates than Rio of mosquito-borne viruses like Zika, dengue, chikungunya and malaria.
Based on the current knowledge of Zika (and other congenital infections), as long as you don’t try to get pregnant or are pregnant when you have Zika, you can acquire Zika virus as a woman and still have a healthy baby later on, says Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease and public health specialist. But Dr. Gounder suggests waiting at least at least one month after recovering from Zika (and preferably three months) before trying to get pregnant.
The threat that fear of Zika could lead tourists, or even athletes, to stay away from the 2016 Olympics has been added to a list of problems for organizers to resolve before the Rio games in August.
US Sports officials have told olympics athletes that those concerned about the Zika virus should consider not going to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.