Rory McIlroy concerned about Zika virus at Rio Olympics
Golfer says he and fiancée will contemplate starting family in next couple of years
Rory McIlroy has said he and his fiancée Erica Stoll are contemplating the prospect of starting a family in the next year or two. Photograph: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy has become the latest, and most high-profile, golfer to express reservations about competing in the Rio Olympics this year due to the ongoing threat of the Zika virus.
The world number three, who clinched his first win of 2016 at the Irish Open over the weekend, is due to participate for Ireland as the sport makes its return to the Games for the first time since 1904.
However, as he contemplates the prospect of starting a family in the next year or two with fiancée Erica Stoll, McIlroy has admitted to having slight concerns over the uncertainty of Zika, which has been linked to defects in newborn babies.
While former Masters and US PGA champion Vijay Singh and Australia’s Marc Leishman have already announced their withdrawal because of worries relating to the mosquito-borne virus, McIlroy has revealed he will keep an eye on developments in Brazil.
“I’ve been reading a lot of reports about Zika and there’s some articles saying it might be worse than what they’re saying,” he told the BBC.
“I have to monitor that situation because there’s going to be a point in time over the next couple of years where we’re going to have to think about starting a family and I don’t want anything to affect that.
“Right now I’m ready to go to the Olympics and go down to Rio and try to compete for a gold medal.”
He added: “I’m actually going to get my injections on Wednesday for all that so at least I’ll be immunised for whatever if I do get bitten by a mosquito down there.”
McIlroy had been eligible to compete for either Great Britain or Ireland this summer but contemplated withdrawing from the event in order to avoid upsetting anyone with his choice.
He eventually opted to continue representing Ireland, as he did throughout his amateur career and twice in the World Cup.
He added: “I used to view the Olympics with a bit of resentment because it made me think about who I was and where I was from in a way. If there was just a Northern Irish team I’d love to play for a Northern Irish team but it doesn’t quite work like that.
“I’ve always played golf for Ireland, we view golf in this island as the whole of Ireland and it’s what I’ve always done. That’s what I’m going to do down there, I’m going to be proud to put on that green shirt and hopefully compete for a gold.”