Latin America & Caribbean

Rio 2016: Goalkeeper Hope Solo taunted with Zika chants

Goalkeeper Hope Solo of USA gestures during the women's first round group G match between USA and New Zealand of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Soccer tournament at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 3 August 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The crowd booed Hope Solo and chanted "Zika! Zika"!"

US goalkeeper Hope Solo was taunted with chants of "Zika! Zika!" as the US women's football team played in its Olympic debut in Brazil on Wednesday.

Solo, who had previously posted photos of herself on Twitter wearing a hat with mosquito netting, dismissed the chants as fans "having fun".

A number of athletes cancelled their participation in the Games for fear of contracting the mosquito-borne virus.

Brazil says the arrival of winter has greatly reduced the threat.

Solo, 35, said she did not notice the chants of "Zika! Zika!" from the 10,000-strong crowd during the game against New Zealand in the city of Belo Horizonte.

The US beat New Zealand 2-0.

When Solo was told about the chants she said: "I'm glad the fans had fun, and if they had fun at my expense, more power to them.''

'Feel a bit bad'

Solo had expressed her concern over Zika on Twitter.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Hope Solo posted a picture of mosquito netting and more than a dozen bottles of repellent
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption She also posed with a hat with mosquito netting

The posts caused a backlash, with some Brazilians seeing them as a slight to their country, which has been battling a nationwide Zika outbreak.

The Brazilian authorities deployed thousands of soldiers to fumigate key areas and to educate people about mosquito prevention measures.

Before Wednesday's game, Solo said US media had given her the wrong idea about conditions in Brazil.

"It's a little bit unfortunate because I think the American media has been really tough on the people of Brazil," she said.

"I don't know why, but we like to sensationalise everything and scare people and then... when the games go on, everything goes on as planned, ends up being a beautiful tournament. And I expect no less here.

"I feel a little bit bad because when you come here you learn for yourself," she added.

US coach Jill Evans said she hoped Brazilians would "realise that Hope has apologised".

"We are used to getting booed in other countries, so that part of it is not foreign. I hope the Brazilian people appreciate what we are trying to do with the ball and move past that," she said.

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