World golf No.4 Rory McIlroy pulls out of Rio Olympics over Zika virus fears

Golfer Rory McIlroy will not compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro because of concerns over the Zika virus. He said the virus, which is prevalent in Brazil, is “a risk I am unwilling to take”. Former golf world No.1 McIlroy said he hoped to have children one day soon and that the risks to unborn children from the virus had weighed heavily on his mind. There have been calls for the Rio Games to be cancelled or postponed because of Zika’s spread.

I trust the Irish people will understand my decision.

Rory McIlroy

In a statement, 27-year-old McIlroy said that “my health and my family’s health comes before everything else”. He added: “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.” But the International Olympic Committee ruled out any changes and said it was working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure the safety of the Games. The virus has spread around the globe and has been declared a public health emergency by the WHO. There are concerns that infection among pregnant women can lead to birth defects.