Dustin Johnson
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Dustin Johnson to skip Olympics due to Zika concern

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Dustin Johnson became the third player ranked in the top four in the world to say he will skip golf’s return to the Olympics due to Zika virus concerns.

“As an athlete, I can think of no greater honor than representing the United States in the Olympic Games,” Johnson said in a statement Friday night, according to Golf Channel. “However, after much careful consideration and discussion with both my family and my team, I have made the decision to withdraw from the 2016 Olympic Games. This was not an easy decision for me, but my concerns about the Zika virus cannot be ignored. [Wife] Paulina and I plan to have more children in the near future, and I feel it would be irresponsible to put myself, her or our family at risk.”

Johnson, ranked No. 2 in the world, joins world No. 1 Jason Day of New Zealand and No. 4 Rory McIlroy of Ireland in opting out of the Rio Games due to Zika concerns. Golf returns to the Olympics after a 112-year absence.

Johnson is the first American currently in Olympic qualifying position to say he will skip Rio. World No. 3 Jordan Spieth has not decided if he will play.

The Olympic golf field will be determined by world rankings on Monday.

With Johnson out, the top four U.S. golfers are Spieth, No. 5 Bubba Watson, No. 7 Rickie Fowler and No. 13 Patrick Reed.

If any of them withdraw, No. 15 Matt Kuchar would be next up, should he not fall in the rankings Monday. No American ranked outside the top 15 can play in Rio due to country maximum limits.

MORE: First elite women’s golfer withdraws from Olympics, cites Zika

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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