The Zika virus strikes again. Add Rory McIlroy to the growing list of golfers skipping the Olympic Games in Rio.
Other golfers planning to skip the Olympics are Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Vijay Singh. Other high-profile golfers have expressed concern, meaning more announcements likely will follow.
On the women’s side, top Korean player Inbee Park is likely to miss because of injury.
Here is McIlroy’s statement:
“After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“After speaking with those closest to me, I’ve come to realise 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.
“I trust the Irish people will understand my decision. The unwavering support I receive every time I compete in a golf tournament at home or abroad means the world to me.
“I will continue to endeavour to make my fans and fans of golf proud with my play on the course and my actions off it.”
The Zika virus is transmitted via mosquitoes, making golfers more vulnerable, since their event is conducted outdoors. However, golf is not the only sport that will be lacking the world’s greatest players.
Basketball will lack many superstars, although many are citing injury and not Zika. Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, John Wall and others will not suit up for Team USA.
Cycling will miss a top American, Tejay van Garderen, who worries about transmitting the Zika virus to his pregnant wife. Zika can cause birth defects if mothers are infected during pregnancy.
For that reason, Savannah Guthrie, a co-host of NBC’s Today show who is pregnant, also will skip the Olympics.
Will more golfers withdraw before the qualifying period ends on July 11? It is more than likely, and who can blame them?