Olympic golf fans (if there are any out there), don’t fret yet — Rory McIlroy is still planning on competing in the upcoming games in Rio this summer, but he does have concerns (as he should) over the threat of contracting the Zika virus, which may cause him to reassess his commitment, according to the BBC:
The world number three from Northern Ireland is “monitoring” the spread of the virus, which is linked to brain deformities in newborn babies.
He said: “There’s going to be a point in the next couple of years where we’re (with fiancee Erica Stoll) going to have to think about starting a family.
“Right now I’m ready to go but I don’t want anything to affect that.”
Asked if there was a chance he might not go to Rio, McIlroy, replied: “Yeah.” But he added: “Right now I am going and looking forward to it.”
That’s completely understandable and I wouldn’t begrudge McIlroy if he ends up deciding not to compete in the Olympics. I don’t hold it against any of the golfers, who have already chosen to withdraw their names, including Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Vijay Singh.
The Zika virus is supposed to be a massive concern for those looking to have children because it can cause birth defects. Pregnant women and those trying to have kids have been advised to stay away from South America. But it’s actually more dangerous for men than it is for women. And when you think about it, golfers are likely some of the athletes that will be most exposed to the possibility of contracting the virus.
“As it gets closer I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold,” McIlroy told the BBC. “But I have been reading a lot of reports about Zika and there have been some articles coming out saying that it might be worse than they’re saying and I have to monitor that situation.
“I am actually going to get my injections on Wednesday – at least I will be immunized for whatever… if I do get bitten by a mosquito down there.”
The return of golf to the Olympics this summer — for the first time since 1904 — isn’t creating the buzz that organizers would have hoped, and if a big name like McIlroy pulls out, then it could threaten the future of the sport’s participation. With the serious threat of the Zika virus and the boring format (72-hole medal play — you know, what we see every week), it sounds like it’s going to be disaster. Let’s hope that’s not the case.