Golfer McIlroy pulls out of Rio over Zika fears

Wed Jun 22, 2016 10:52am EDT
 
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By Adrian Warner

LONDON (Reuters) - Northern Ireland's four-times major winner Rory McIlroy has decided to pull out of the historic golf tournament at the Rio Olympic Games in August because of health fears over the Zika virus.

"After speaking with those closest to me, I've come to realize that my health and my family's health comes before anything else," the world number four said in a statement on Wednesday.

"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."

The International Golf Federation (IGF) said it was disappointed with McIlroy's decision.

The 27-year-old was due to represent Ireland, rather than Britain, at the Games and his withdrawal is the latest blow to golf, which is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.

A number of big names, including Fiji's Vijay Singh and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, have also withdrawn because of the virus.

Controversy over the Aug. 5-21 Games has grown as more becomes known about Zika. The mosquito-borne virus can cause crippling birth defects and, in adults, has been linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the Games did not need to be moved or postponed because there is "a very low risk" that holding the event in Brazil will cause further spread of the virus.   Continued...

 
Jun 17, 2016; Oakmont, PA, USA; Rory McIlroy reacts after missing a putt on the 18th green during the continuation of the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Oakmont Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports