Rory McIlroy Drops Out of Olympics Over Zika Fears
Golf is making its first appearance at the Olympics in 112 years
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2016 1:58 PM CDT
Rory McIlroy says he won't be competing in this year's Olympics over Zika virus fears. Golf is being brought back as an Olympic sport for the first time in 112 years.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

(Newser) – Golfer Rory McIlroy won't be participating in this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over concerns about the Zika virus, the BBC reports. According to the New York Times, he's the "highest-profile athlete" to pull out because of Zika so far. McIlroy, who was going to compete for Ireland, has won four majors and is the fourth-ranked golfer in the world. “My health and my family's health comes before everything else,” ESPN quotes McIlroy as saying in a statement. "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." Both the Olympic Council of Ireland and the International Golf Federation say they are "disappointed" in McIlroy's decision.

The Times states the loss of McIlroy is a "major blow" for the Olympics, which is bringing golf back as an Olympic sport for the first time since 1904. McIlroy was one of the few big-name golfers who had seemed like a lock to travel to Rio, even going so far as to get his vaccinations. Fiji's Vijay Singh and Australia's Marc Leishman have already said they won't be competing in the Olympics over Zika worries. The world's top golfer, Australia's Jason Day, is considering not going. Other famous golfers, such as Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen, say they aren't going for reasons other than Zika. (Meanwhile, some Olympic athletes and coaches are freezing their sperm as a precaution.)