Today co-host Savannah Guthrie revealed during the morning show this morning that she is pregnant with her second child, and she will bow out of NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics this summer in Rio due to her doctor’s concerns over the Zika virus.
Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Guthrie had been tapped to host NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony of Rio Games on August 5 in Rio de Janeiro. It would have been Guthrie’s third Olympics for Today.
“So I’m not going to be able to go to Rio,” Guthrie said this morning when asked about her Olympics plans. “The doctors say that I shouldn’t, because of the CDC, because of the Zika virus. Yeah, so I’ll miss it. You’re going to have to go to female beach volleyball without me, Matt. Try to carry on.
“You guys will have a great time and I’ll hold down the fort, we’re going to be in the height of the campaign season, so I’ll be here.”
Since May 2015, Brazil has experienced a significant outbreak of Zika virus which has mostly been transmitted via mosquito bites. According to the Center for Disease Control, it has resulted in an increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a birth defect which can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. It can also be transmitted via unprotected sex.
Microcephaly is a condition where a baby is born with a small head or the head stops growing after birth.
NBC says “NBCUniversal’s medical department has advised all of our Olympic personnel to consult with their personal physicians, and continues to provide the latest information from the CDC and WHO, including basic prevention steps,” the media company says in a statement. “No NBC personnel assigned to work in Rio will be required to travel if they believe their personal health or safety is at risk.” Two years ago, NBC paid nearly $7.8B for Olympics broadcast rights through 2032.
The World Heath Organization says Zika symptoms include “fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache,” are usually mild, and last for up to seven days. WHO is advising pregnant women not to travel to areas with ongoing outbreaks, Brazil being one of the 58 countries and territories reporting transmission of the virus. WHO initially said there was no public health “justification” for postponing the Rio Games, noting they are taking place during Brazil’s wintertime, when there are fewer active mosquitoes and the risk of being bitten is lower. But after a public letter signed by 150 international health experts and scientists called for the Games to be moved or postponed due to the health crisis in Brazil, WHO said it would reconsider the situation later this month. In the letter, health experts from different countries including the United States, Great Britain, Brazil, and South Africa, warned “an unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic.”
Zika has raised serious alarm bells in the run-up to the Rio Games, both among athletes and the thousands of media who will descend on Brazil in less than two months. Earlier this week, cyclist Tejay van Garderen said he was withdrawing his name from Team USA consideration due to concerns about the potential effects the virus could have on his wife, who is pregnant.
Former LA Lakers center Pau Gasol has said he wouldn’t play for Spain in the Olympics because of Zika, and said other athletes have told him they were considering not attending. The BBC reported that golfers Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman have said they will not participate.
On Monday, the NBA’s MVP Stephen Curry said he was passing on the Olympics “due to several factors — including recent ankle and knee injuries.” His Golden State Warriors are currently playing in the NBA Finals.