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Published: 09:36 | 22/6/16

McIlroy withdraws from Olympics

Concerns over Zika virus behind the decision

Rory McIlroy will not compete at the Rio Olympics due to concerns about the Zika virus.

McIlroy had voiced concerns over travelling to Brazil due to the virus, which has been linked to defects in newborn babies, but the four-time major winner was pressing ahead with plans to represent Ireland after speaking to medical professionals about the risks.

However, he has decided to put his health and that of his family's above his desire to win Olympic gold and has opted to withdraw his name from consideration.

"After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero," McIlroy said in a statement.

"After speaking with those closest to me, I've come to realise that my health and my family's health comes before anything 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.

"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."

The Olympic Council of Ireland say they are “extremely disappointed” with the news.

“However, as we have always said, it is down to the individual and of course we respect his decision, which he has taken for personal reasons," the OCI said in a statement.

"Rory was set to be one of the big stars of Rio 2016, but now there is an opportunity for another Irish golfer to take up the chance to become an Olympian and participate in golf’s historic return to the Olympic Games after a 112-year absence.

"The OCI and our medical team have taken our lead from the IOC on the zika situation, as we do in all matters. They have provided us with every assurance and we have total confidence that the Games will be safe for all athletes.

"We are now following the IOC’s recommendations, as well as the recommendations of the Rio 2016 organisers, the World Health Organisation and national health authorities, to ensure that Team Ireland’s athletes are kept fully updated with the latest and best advice and that they are equipped to take all necessary precautions."

Former Masters and US PGA champion Vijay Singh and Australia's Marc Leishman have decided against competing in Rio because of the virus, while Masters Champion Danny Willett is monitoring the situation.

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