Bowing out. Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro due to concerns over the Zika virus. The golfer, who would have been playing for Ireland, announced his decision in a statement on Tuesday, June 21.
“After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” McIlroy, 27, said, via ESPN. “After speaking with those closest to me, I’ve come to realize 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,” he continued. “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.”
The Olympic Council of Ireland respects McIlroy’s decision, but is disappointed. Despite the setback, the council has every intention of sending another athlete to represent the country.
“The OCI is extremely disappointed not to be taking Rory with us to Rio. 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,” the council shared in a statement. “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.”
McIlroy isn’t the only one to pull out of the Olympics because of Zika. Others include Australian golfers Marc Leishman and Adam Scott.
The virus has been an issue in Brazil for quite some time. Zika can cause flulike symptoms such as rash, fever and joint pain. Pregnant women especially have been warned to not travel to areas of outbreak because it could cause birth defects.
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