Rory McIlroy
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Rory McIlroy skips Rio Olympics due to Zika virus

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World No. 4 golfer Rory McIlroy will skip the Olympics due to Zika virus concerns.

“After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer’s Olympic Games,” McIlroy said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

McIlroy, a four-time major champion, was set to play for Ireland in the Rio Olympics, choosing it over Great Britain as his native Northern Ireland does not have a separate Olympic team.

“I trust the Irish people will understand my decision,” McIlroy said in the statement. “The unwavering support I receive every time I compete in a golf tournament at home or abroad means the world to me.”

McIlroy has been monitoring the Zika virus situation since at least May and said on June 1 that he was more comfortable about competing in the first Olympic men’s golf tournament in 112 years.

“Even if I do contract Zika, it’s not the end of the world,” McIlroy said June 1, according to European media reports. “It takes six months to pass through your system, and you’re fine.”

With McIlroy out, the Irish golf team in Rio is slated to be world No. 25 Shane Lowry, who tied for second at last week’s U.S. Open, and No. 73 Graeme McDowell.

McIlroy is the fifth major champion to announce he will skip the Olympics, joining Fiji’s Vijay Singh, Australian Adam Scott and South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, who all mostly cited scheduling conflicts.

MORE: Faldo, Sorenstam part of NBC Olympics golf team

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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