Jason Day thinking about family as he considers competing in Rio

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Rory McIlroy is the most high-profile golfer to withdraw from the Rio Games, where golf will make its first Olympic appearance since 1904. The world’s No. 1 golfer hasn’t ruled out joining him.

Australian Jason Day spoke with the Golf Channel on Thursday and said he’s not yet sure whether he’ll compete in Rio. McIlroy cited concerns about the Zika virus as his reason for skipping the Olympics, and Zika is the only reason Day hasn’t already committed.

“Let me tell it this way, me and Ellie are probably not done having kids,” Day said. “So I have to weigh that pretty heavily up against representing my country and trying to win a gold medal.”

Birth defects can occur in babies born to women infected by the virus, and men can transmit the disease sexually. Day and his wife, Ellie, have a 3-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter.

“I’m going to make my decision when it comes time to, but I really haven’t had the opportunity to really sit down and think about it, digest everything,” he said. “Now Rory’s pulled out, there’s been a number of guys that have kind of pulled the pin on playing, which is obviously understandable. I’ll probably look at the situation very soon and see what my decision is.”

Doctors on the PGA Tour are doing their best to keep the golfers informed on the latest information coming out of Brazil. Day said he plans to consult with independent doctors as well.

Two Australians, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, have already pulled their names from Olympic consideration, though not necessarily over Zika concerns. If Day were to pull out, that would take two top-10 golfers from Australia out of the mix; Scott is No. 8 in the world.

As of now, the four Americans who join Day and McIlroy in the top six of the world golf rankings (Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler) have not opted out of the Olympics.

MORE: Rory McIlroy skips Rio Olympics due to Zika virus

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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