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Rory McIlroy has come out in support of American gymnast Simone Biles after she withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics to prioritise her mental health. 

American athlete Biles has been the centre of a media storm following her decision to withdraw from this year’s Olympic Games.

The 24-year-old pulled out after one rotation of the gymnastics women’s team final on Tuesday and has since withdrawn from the individual all-around final.

Speaking following his opening round on Thursday, where he fired two-under, McIlroy came out in support of Biles, suggesting that she carried a “massive weight on her shoulders”.

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“I live in the United States and anything that came on the TV, NBC or commercials about the Olympics, it was Simone Biles, it was the Simone Biles Olympics, right?” said McIlroy on Thursday. “So, to have the weight of 300-million in the US. The weight on her shoulders is massive.

“Just as I thought Naomi Osaka was right to do what she did at the French Open and take that time off and get herself in the right place, I 100 percent agree with what Simone is doing as well.

McIlroy, who currently sits in T7 at the Olympic Golf event, added that he is pleased to see the controversial topic of mental health being discussed more readily.

• PGA Tour caddie blasts athletes taking the knee

“Some people have to know when enough is enough and I’m glad that at least the conversation has started,” said the Northern Irishman.

“I mean, you have to put yourself in the best position physically and mentally to be at your best and if you don’t feel like you’re at that or you’re in that position then you’re going to have to make those decisions, and I’m certainly very impressed with especially those two women to do what they did and put themselves first.”

• Pro launches scathing attack on PGA Tour

“The conversation, it’s not taboo anymore. People can talk about it just as somebody has a knee or elbow injury, if you don’t feel right 100 percent right mentally that’s an injury too.”

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