(Reuters) - An Olympic gold medal was not the pinnacle of the sport for golfers according to world number four Rory McIlroy, and he had no concerns about his decision to withdraw from the Rio de Janeiro Games.
The Northern Irishman withdrew from the Rio Games last week, citing concerns about the Zika virus, though he also told British media the Olympics were not one of his goals.
“Most other athletes dream their whole lives of competing in the Olympics, winning an Olympic gold, and we haven’t,” McIlroy told British media. “We dream of winning Claret Jugs and we dream of winning green jackets (at Augusta National).
“I’ve said to people I have four Olympic Games a year. That’s my pinnacle. That’s what I play for. That’s what I’ll be remembered for.”
Australia’s world number one Jason Day, Fiji’s Vijay Singh and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, have also pulled out due to concerns over the virus. World number eight Adam Scott withdrew citing a congested playing schedule.
Organizers and the World Health Organisation have said the risk of contracting the virus, which can cause birth defects and been linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre in adults, was low.
McIlroy, however, was not prepared to take the risk.
“Jason Day has a young family. I’m getting married next year,” McIlroy said. “People just aren’t comfortable going down there and putting themselves or their family at risk.
“If the Olympics were in most other cities or countries, you wouldn’t find as many people not wanting to go.
“There’s another Games in Tokyo in 2020 and I’m more than happy to wait until then to get that Olympic experience.”
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Stutchbury