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.Follow @nzaccardi