Golfers using Zika as an excuse, says Redgrave

Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:17am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Some male golfers are using the Zika virus as an excuse for missing the Rio Olympics when really the big-money majors matter more to them, Britain's five-times rowing gold medalist Steve Redgrave said on Tuesday.

Redgrave, who won gold at five separate Games, questioned why so many of the men, and so few women, had decided not to play in golf's first Olympic tournament in 112 years.

"I think they are just using it (Zika) as an excuse because of their crowded program. They like the idea of the Olympics but when it comes down to it, the majors are much more important," he told the BBC.

"Unfortunately it’s a money-oriented sport as well, so they don’t earn any money for going to the Olympics.

"I think Zach Johnson really did sum it up, and I wish they would all come out and say that’s the real reason that they’re not going instead of using another excuse," added Redgrave.

American Johnson, the British Open champion who will not be playing in Rio, questioned on Monday whether the sport really belonged on the Olympic program.

Golf fans, he told reporters at Troon, really looked forward to the majors and Ryder Cup and those were his main motivations as a player.

"No offence to the Olympics, but I'd rather be on the Ryder Cup team," he said.

The world's top four players -- Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy -- are among those to have pulled out of the Olympics because of fears over the Zika virus.   Continued...

Former Olympic rower Steve Redgrave rows during Britain's Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London , June 3, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Staples