• Says he is 'unwilling to take' the Zika virus risk
• Joins Scott, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel in pulling out
RORY MCILROY | OLYMPIC GAMES
Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, saying the Zika virus risk is one he is ‘unwilling to take’.
The 27-year-old, who missed the cut at last week’s US Open, had initially been all for representing Ireland at the Games, but cast doubt after winning the Irish Open in an interview with BBC Northern Ireland a month ago, saying that he could be planning on starting a family in the next couple of years and didn’t want anything to affect that.
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And today came the announcement that the four-time major winner had officially pulled out of the Olympics, joining the likes of Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in not teeing it up in Rio de Janeiro.
“After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” said Rory McIlroy, who was in Paris yesterday cheering on Northern Ireland as they reached the last 16 of Euro 2016.
“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.
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“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.”
In response to Rory McIlroy's high-profile withdrawal, the International Golf Federation said: "The IGF is disappointed with Rory’s decision but recognises that some players will have to weigh personally a unique set of circumstances as they contemplate their participation in golf's historic return to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with the Zika virus foremost among them.
"It is unfortunate that the Zika virus has led to Rory McIlroy's decision to withdraw from the Olympic Games, knowing how much he was looking forward to taking part.
"We remain excited about golf's return after a 112-year absence. It will truly be a special occasion for our sport and we are confident that the 60 men and 60 women who will represent their respective countries will find it an experience they will cherish forever."
However, Dr Martin Toms, a senior lecturer in Sport Pedagogy, says Rory McIlroy's absence will have a disastrous effect on golf's reintroduction to the Games.
“It is a major blow for the sport as an Olympic event that we are seeing top players pulling out - albeit for understandable personal reasons," he said. "It will certainly have an impact on the game’s reintroduction at the Rio Olympics – both in terms of viewing figures and general interest.
"It would be very disappointing for golf’s international development if we were to see more players pulling out of the event. For fans of the game around the globe, watching Olympic golf without Rory McIlroy would be like the 100 metres without Usain Bolt.”
Rory McIlroy :: Out of the Olympics
What do you make of Rory McIlroy’s decision to pull out of the Olympic Games – and what impact do you think it’ll have on golf in the Olympics? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.