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Virus blow for Olympics

McIlroy pulls out of Rio Olympic Games over zika

Rory McIlroyGolfer Rory McIlroy has pulled out of the Olympic Games in Rio over concerns about the zika virus.

Recently engaged McIlroy said a few weeks ago that he and fiancee Erica Stoll planned to have a family and he was worried about the mosquito-borne virus which has been linked to brain defects in babies.

In a statement issued today, McIlroy said that “my health and my family’s health comes before everything 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.”.

The 27-year-old Northern Irishman follows Vijay Singh and Australia’s Marc Leishman who have already pulled out of the games because of the zika issue.

McIlroy, who was due to represent Ireland, added:”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.”

McIlroy first revealed his concerns over the virus last month when he spoke about he and his fiancee’s plans to have children. He said at the time: “There’s going to be a point in the next couple of years where we’re going to have to think about starting a family.Right now I’m ready to go [to the Olympics] but I don’t want anything to affect that.”

He said at the time that he was still relishing the thought of competing for gold but said he had been reading a lot of reports about zika.

“There have been some articles coming out saying that it might be worse than they’re saying and I have to monitor that situation,” he said.

Olympic authorities were known to be concerned about McIlroy’s non-participation after the withdrawal of former Masters and US PGA champion  Singh and the Australian Leishman.

Golf is making its first appearance since 1904 and the IOC will vote next year on whether it remains in the Olympics beyond the Toyko games 2020.

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