Sports

​McIlroy Withdraws From Olympics Over Zika Virus Fears

The current world number-four was set to compete in Rio in August, but has now withdraw himself from consideration citing concerns over the Zika virus.
June 22, 2016, 2:01pm
Erik S. Lesser/EPA

Rory McIlroy has pulled out of this summer's Olympic Games over concerns about the Zika virus.

The current world number-four was set to compete in Rio in August, when golf will become an Olympic sport again for the first time since 1904. McIlroy had elected to represent Ireland rather than Great Britain at the Games.

But he has now withdraw himself from consideration, citing concerns over the mosquito-borne virus. Zika has become an epidemic and was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation in February. Most people infected show no symptoms, while others can suffer mild afflictions such as a fever and headaches. Anything more serious is rare, but experts have stated that the virus can cause severe birth defects in children.

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"After speaking with those closest to me, I've come to realise that my health and my family's health come before anything else," McIlroy said in a statement. "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."

McIlroy continued:

"I trust the Irish people will understand my decision. The unwavering support every time I complete in a golf tournament at home or abroad means the world to me."

He is not the first golfer to withdraw from the Games over Zika-related fears: both Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman have already pulled out.

McIlroy has also avoided the controversial decision to compete for the Republic of Ireland at the Games. The 27-year-old was raised a Roman Catholic in Northern Ireland, but has not previously competed under the Irish tricolour. His decision to play for Ireland drew criticism and support from both sides. McIlroy has previously stated that he was "placed in a very difficult position" when choosing who to represent at the Games, and would elect to play for Northern Ireland were this an option.

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