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

Swimming short-course records in peril as FINA recognizes ISL times

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In the debut season of the International Swimming League, six U.S. short-course records have fallen. USA Swimming has recognized the new circuit’s times from the outset.

International body FINA, which at first threatened to ban swimmers who participated in the ISL and then said it would not recognize records from the team-based league, which debuted in October and will hold its first final meet Dec. 20-21 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, is now recognizing those times, and the effects on its statistics have been drastic.

MORE: Ledecky sets U.S. record in ISL debut

This morning, a downloaded list of the top times in the world this year included no ISL times. By the afternoon, times from the ISL’s meet over the weekend in College Park, Md., accounted for most of the times on the lists, including the top 10 in the women’s 50m freestyle and women’s 100m freestyle.

So far, the ISL hasn’t figured into the top five on many all-time FINA lists. But the best short-course times are typically posted near the end of the year, and the ISL has two meets remaining.

The U.S. record book has already changed. In October, Katie Ledecky set the 400m freestyle record (3:54.06) and Melanie Margalis set the 200m medley mark (2:04.18).

In College Park this weekend, Margalis also set the U.S. 400m medley record (4:24.46) and Ian Finnerty set two records the 50m breaststroke (25.99), with runner-up Michael Andrew also beating the previous record, and the 100m breaststroke (56.29). Also, Caeleb Dressel set the 50m butterfly record (22.21).

Only half of the swimmers in the ISL will advance to the final, and qualification isn’t necessarily in their hands. After the College Park meet, the Cali Condors and LA Current clinched spots in Las Vegas. That’s bad news for Andrew (New York Breakers), Finnerty (DC Trident) and Ledecky (DC Trident).

Dressel, Margalis and Lilly King — all representing the Condors — will have another shot at records in Vegas. 

FINA, as usual, is running its World Cup circuit during the fall and early winter, and some swimmers — including overall World Cup champions Vladimir Morozov and Cate Campbell — are pulling double duty between the World Cup and ISL.

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IOC announces deal with Airbnb to add housing for future Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee has moved to help with the scramble to house the influx of athletes, staff and spectators with each Olympics, making a deal with online housing broker Airbnb to add accommodations for the Games through 2028.

“The agreement includes accommodation provisions that will reduce costs for Olympic Games organizers and stakeholders, minimize the need for construction of new accommodation infrastructure for the Olympic Games period, and generate direct revenue for local hosts and communities,” the IOC announced.

Airbnb’s partnership also includes accommodation for disability athletes for the Paralympic Games, and the company will join large global companies such as Coca-Cola, Visa and Panasonic as worldwide Olympic partners.

Athletes also will have a chance to make money by hosting travelers.

“As an Olympian host, you can create and lead an experience inspired by your expertise and interests,” reads an explanation on the Olympic athlete support portal Athlete365.

Outside the Olympics and Olympic athlete experiences, the IOC and Airbnb are pledging to work together on long-term support to refugees.

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