Pregnant Savannah Guthrie opts out of Rio Olympics over Zika concerns

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Savannah Guthrie is pregnant with a second baby!

Today anchor Savannah Guthrie is expecting her second child and that means she'll be skipping the Summer Olympics in Rio, where the mosquito-borne Zika virus has been blamed for severe birth defects. The move makes Guthrie, 44, the most high-profile TV personality to opt out of the Games.

Guthrie made the announcement about her pregnancy Tuesday morning on Today surrounded by her colleagues "I'm not going to be able to go to Rio so you'll have to go to beach volleyball without me," she said, adding, "I'm looking forward to the campaign season."

NBCUniversal has said that employees concerned about traveling to Rio are not required to go. And so far, a handful of employees have declined. Noah Oppenheim, NBC News senior vp and executive in charge of Today, tells The Hollywood Reporter that Zika has "not been a source of very much angst" at the news division. "We've created a transparent culture here where people feel very comfortable raising a hand and saying, 'You know what? I'd rather not make this trip.'"

PHOTOS: Savannah Guthrie through the years

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Savannah Guthrie through the years
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Pregnant Savannah Guthrie opts out of Rio Olympics over Zika concerns
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Journalists Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie attend the 2016 NBCUNIVERSAL Upfront at Radio City Music Hall on May 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 18: Court TV correspondent Savannah Guthrie attends Lucky Magazine's VIP Preview to benefit the Robin Hood Foundation at Gotham Hall on November 18, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images)
SLUG: ST-MEDIA DATE: 05/21/2010 CREDIT: Dayna Smith/ftwp CAPTION: MSNBC's 'Daily Rundown' TV correspondents Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd during a live broadcast with Rep. John Dingell, at NBC studios in Washington, DC.
NBC NEWS SPECIALS -- Decision 2010 -- Pictured: Savannah Guthrie, White House Correspondent, NBC News during 'Decision 2010' on November 2, 2010 (Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: Journalist Savannah Guthrie attends the People/TIME White House Correspondents' dinner cocktail party at the St. Regis Hotel on April 29, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for TIME)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer appear on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Ann Curry and Savannah Guthrie appear on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer and Natalie Morales appear on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Savannah Guthrie appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4310 -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie during an interview with host Jay Leno on August 30, 2012 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Savannah Guthrie appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 28: Host Savannah Guthrie on the set of NBC's 'Today' at the NBC's TODAY Show on June 28, 2013 in New York, New York. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09: Journalist Savannah Guthrie attends NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on April 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Natalie Morales and Savannah Guthrie appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie and Lady Gaga appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Savannah Guthrie attends A Celebration of Barbara Walters Cocktail Reception Red Carpet at the Four Seasons Restaurant on May 14, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 20: 'Today' co-host Savannah Guthrie speaks to the crowd on NBC's 'Today' at the NBC's TODAY Show on June 20, 2014 in New York, New York. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 30: Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie attend the 'America's Got Talent' season 9 post show red carpet event at Radio City Music Hall on July 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 04: Australian-born presenter, Savannah Guthrie poses for a photo inside an art installation before hosting NBC's 'Today Show' live from Australia at Sydney Opera House on May 4, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie and Carson Daly appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Savannah Guthrie leaves NBC's 'Today' show at Rockefeller Center on November 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
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The same policy was in place in 2014 for the network's coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where terrorism and security concerns caused some employees to stay away.

Rio would have been the third Olympic games for Guthrie, who is due in December. In April, NBC Sports announced that she would join Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira to host NBC's coverage of the Opening Ceremonies on Aug. 5. NBCUniversal typically dispatches close to 3,000 employees to the Olympics venue. And the Games have given NBC News, particularly the Today show, which broadcasts from the Olympic locale, an enormous platform and significant ratings lift. This year, that ratings shot in the arm could be even more critical as Today is ahead of ABC's Good Morning America in the critical 25-54 demographic for the season. (The Games will also mark the debut of Billy Bush during Today's 9 a.m. hour.)

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Oppenheim acknowledged the significance of the Olympics: "it's a deal for us and for the audience." But he also noted that there are advantages to having Guthrie in place during "the height of a very unpredictable election cycle." Before joining Today, Guthrie was NBC News' White House correspondent. She has remained at the forefront of the network's political coverage and will be on location at this summer's political conventions.

Some U.S. athletes including soccer star Hope Solo have expressed concern about traveling to Rio. And American cyclist Tejay van Garderen, whose wife is pregnant, has said he will not participate in the Games. But so far, there have been few athlete defections.

The World Health Organization last January declared Zika a global health emergency. The pathogen is linked to microcephaly, which causes small heads and cognitive impairment in newborn babies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in May that close to 300 pregnant women in the U.S. have tested positive for Zika, though they contracted the virus elsewhere. The Obama administration has asked Congress to approve $1.9 billion in emergency funding to fight Zika, but the bill stalled before the Memorial Day recess.

Read More: Savannah Guthrie to Join Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira in Hosting Rio Olympics Opening Ceremonies

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