Soccer star Hope Solo played an impressive game Wednesday during the U.S. women’s football team’s Olympic debut, despite being booed and heckled by Brazilian fans at every move.
The goalkeeper was booed mercilessly every time she touched the ball and the stadium eventually filled with chants of “Zika” whenever she kicked it up field in response to weeks-old tweets Solo sent about the Zika virus.
“If anyone in the village forgets to pack repellant, come and see me,” read one of the tweets, showing an arsenal bug repellent and mosquito-proofing equipment.
Solo followed up the tweet with a selfie wearing a large mosquito head net and a giant bottle of insect repellent. Some of the tweets included the hashtags #DeptOfDefense and #ZikaProof.
Concerns over Zika virus have been a focal point of the 2016 summer games since Brazil reported an outbreak of the mosquito-carried virus in 2015. Despite the World Health Organization’s (WHO) objections to the games, they’re going ahead. But several athletes – including Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic – have dropped out of the games citing health concerns.
Solo has been vocal of her concerns regarding Zika virus leading up to the games. In an interview with The Associated Press, she said she consulted with infectious disease specialists before leaving for Rio.
“I actually spoke to three different infectious disease doctors and specialists,” she said.
“I spoke to them on the phone with my husband as well, and we got to a point where we asked enough questions. We prepared ourselves as best as possible and we got to a level of being as comfortable as we possibly can be.”
She added that she realizes the odds of contracting the virus are “very small.”
Solo also apologized for her tweets when she arrived in Brazil.
“I heard that there were some negative responses here in Brazil,” she said. “I never would want to offend the host country. In fact, I’m cheering for Team USA, but besides Team USA, I’m going to be cheering for the host country. I’m very grateful for them for hosting the tournament.”
Team USA fan’s were quick to jump to Solo’s defense on Twitter.
Despite being the “Summer” Olympics, Rio will be the first Summer Olympics ever held during the host country’s winter season — a time when mosquito activity in Brazil is reduced and the transmission rates for viruses such as Zika decline substantially, according to Fiona Hunter, Canada’s premier mosquito expert and a professor of biology at Brock University’s Biting Fly Lab.
That means cooler temperatures and reduced rainfall during the Games will result in less than ideal conditions for mosquitoes and an overall reduction of the rate at which the virus spreads.
The Canadian Olympic Committee, responsible for ensuring the safety of Canada’s athletes while in Rio, sees the risks associated with contracting the virus as minimal.
– With files from Brian Hill