Golfers are leading the charge when it comes to athletes withdrawing from the Olympics. The sport returns to the competition for the first time in 112 years, but is under serious strain as leading players continue to pull out. In a statement, McIlroy said he would not be competing due to concerns about the Zika virus. “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,” said McIlroy, 27.
Vijay Singh and Australia’s Mark Leishman have already pulled out of the games for the same reason. Adam Scott flat out refused to play citing his busy schedule. Are we to assume Rory is merely looking for an excuse? Are these genuine concerns? Although Rory was born in Holywood, Northern Ireland, he was set to represent Ireland at the games because of his affiliation with the “all-Ireland” amateur set up. ‘I played boy junior and boys golf for Ireland, I played my amateur golf for Ireland – just because I’m getting paid that doesn’t mean I should change that,” he said last year.
The virus is spread through Mosquitos and can be sexually transmitted. The WHO advises pregnant women to avoid areas with Zika and says people returning from areas with Zika should adopt safe-sex practices for at least eight weeks upon return.
According to Rio’s health secretariat, the number of Zika cases has already declined significantly. The city has seen a total of 26,576 cases of Zika so far this year, with a peak in February of 7,232 cases. In May, there were 702 reported cases.
American Cyclist Tejay van Garderen told CNN’s Robyn Curnow, “If my wife wasn’t pregnant, right now, I’d be going to Rio. My biggest concern is for the baby on the way. I would never tell any athlete who’s worked their butt off for four years not to go to the games.”
Going to Brazil is certainly a risk for pregnant women, so that begs the question…is Rory pregnant? Is his fiancee pregnant? (purely conjecture). Or is he being melodramatic? I’m no expert, but nobody seems to have any idea about the risks associated with traveling to Brazil. It’s time for a government organisation to show some leadership and provide athletes with the correct information so they can make a rational decision.