Hope Solo on Her Decision to Play in the Rio Olympics Despite Zika Fears: 'I Want to Start a Family'

The two-time Olympic gold medalist speaks out about Zika fears after crowds booed her in Rio

Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Hope Solo says that she wishes people knew that she did her “due diligence” about researching the Zika virus before deciding to go to Rio.

“It was a personal decision I had to make alongside my husband,” Solo, the U.S women’s national soccer teams goalkeeper, tells Sports Illustrated. “And it’s not something I just spoke about without getting educated on. It was something very serious to me because I do want to start a family.”

On Wednesday, Solo, the U.S Women’s National Team goalie, received boos every time she touched the ball during Wednesday’s Olympic opener against New Zealand.

The crowd’s reaction was seemingly in response to tweets she posted earlier this summer, in which she joked about her excessive defenses against Zika at the Summer Olympics. In a photo she shared to her more than one million followers, the 35-year-old is in a mosquito net while holding a large bottle of bug repellent.

Although the crowd chanted “Zika! Zika!” at Solo throughout the game, she told magazine that it didn’t affect her.

“I came here to do one thing, and that’s to help our team win, our country win,” says Solo, who is married to former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens. “And I’m very focused in doing that.”

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She adds that her concerns came from endless research.

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“The CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and even the World Health Organization came out and said any pregnant women or if you intend to get pregnant anytime soon, we do not advise traveling to Brazil,” she says. “So it’s not like I just made this up. I listened to the CDC. I listened to the World Health Organization. I spoke to experts.”

She adds: “I take this very seriously, and I just wanted to make sure I’m as prepared as possible for anything off the field so that on the field I can just focus on soccer.”

To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit teamusa.org. The Rio Olympics begin Friday on NBC.

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