Rory McIlroy withdraws from Rio Olympics over health concerns
Irish golfer feels risk of Zika virus too great and becomes latest sportsperson to opt out
Rory McIlroy will not compete in the upcoming Rio Olympics - with the risk of the Zika virus one he is “unwilling to take”.
The World number four golfer joins a growing list of golfers including Vijay Singh, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel who have already said they will not feature in Rio.
On Wednesday morning, McIlroy released the following statement:
“After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“After speaking with those closest to me, I’ve come to realise that my health and my family’s health comes before anything else. Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take.
“I trust the Irish people will understand my decision. The unwavering support I receive every time I compete in a golf tournament at home or abroad means the world to me.
“I will continue to endeavour to make my fans and fans of golf proud with my play on the course and my actions off it.”
Last month McIlroy expressed his initial concerns over the situation in Rio, and said he would be “monitoring” developments.
The 27-year-old told reporters back then that - “as it gets closer, I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold. But I have been reading a lot of reports about Zika and there have been some articles coming out saying that it might be worse than they are saying. I have to monitor that situation.”
In response to McIroy’s decision, the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) said it is “extremely disappointed” with the news.
“However, as we have always said, it is down to the individual and of course we respect his decision, which he has taken for personal reasons.
“Rory was set to be one of the big stars of Rio 2016, but now there is an opportunity for another Irish golfer to take up the chance to become an Olympian and participate in golf’s historic return to the Olympic Games after a 112-year absence.
“The OCI and our medical team have taken our lead from the IOC on the Zika situation, as we do in all matters. They have provided us with every assurance, and we have total confidence that the Games will be safe for all athletes.
“We are now following the IOC’s recommendations, as well as the recommendations of the Rio 2016 organisers, the World Health Organisation and national health authorities, to ensure that Team Ireland’s athletes are kept fully updated with the latest and best advice, and that they are equipped to take all necessary precautions.”
The mosquito-borne Zika virus has been linked to causing birth defects and, in adults, has been linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre.