Many athletes have spoken up about Zika concerns in the Rio Olympics, and many have pulled their name from competitive consideration. Golfer Rory McIlroy is the latest to take his name out of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
McIlroy said that he did not want to make the risk of catching the virus, and added the following, via the AP:
“After speaking with those closest to me, I’ve come to realize that my health and my family’s health comes before anything else.”
“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 endeavor to make my fans and fans of golf proud with my play on the course and my actions off it.”
McIlroy also mentioned that he and his fiancée are considering starting a family in the next couple of years. He acknowledged that the risk of infection is low, but the greatest concerns of the virus appear to be when conceiving children and its affect on them.
Marc Leishman has also pulled out of the Olympics due to health concerns. Adam Scott Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Vijay Signh all declined the chance at Rio due to scheduling commitments.
The International Golf Federation expressed disappointment with McIlroy, via the AP:
The International Golf Federation said it was “disappointed with Rory’s decision but recognizes 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 added that “the Olympics is the world’s greatest celebration of sport and we remain excited about golf’s return after a 112-year absence.”
It’s a good thing that players are informing themselves of the risks involved with Zika, and if McIlroy is planning on starting a family, that’s more important than a golf tournament, no matter how big the stage is.