The CEO of the USOC sent a letter to athletes ahead of the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro

February 11, 2016 02:35 PM

The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) isn’t taking news of the Zika virus outbreak lightly.

Following reports that 72 individuals in the United States have been infected by the virus, the USOC CEO, Scott Blackmum, sent a letter to athletes ahead of this summer’s Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Olympics are scheduled for August 5-21.

“I know that the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil is of concern to many of you,” Blackmun wrote, according to the AP. “I want to emphasize that it is to us, as well, and that your well-being in Rio this summer is our highest priority.”

Infectious disease specialists will be working on-site in Brazil to advise athletes about the virus. The efforts come days after pro soccer player Hope Solo told Sports Illustrated she had no intention of heading to Brazil for the Olympics this summer if the Zika virus were still running rampant.

“I don’t know when that day will come for [my husband] Jerramy and me, but I personally reserve my right to have a healthy baby,” she tells the magazine. “Female athletes should not be forced to make a decision that could sacrifice the health of a child.”

The Zika virus has been said to be connected to microcephaly – which causes unusually small heads in babies – and had previously only been found in the Caribbean, South America and Central America.

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