Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy has said he could turn down the chance to represent his country at the Olympics, due to wide spread Zika virus in Brazil.
This summer, golf will be an Olympic sport for the very first time, but the world number three is considering boycotting it.
The virus, which was declared as an outbreak by Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February 2016, is linked to brain deformities in newborn babies and McIlroy is concerned:
“Right now, I’m ready to go but I don’t want anything to affect that,” he said.
The 27-year-old also said that it is likely in the next few years he and his fianceé Erica Stoll will think about starting a family.
If McIlroy does decide to play he has confirmed he will play for Ireland, despite being from Northern Ireland and eligible to play for Great Britain:
“If there was just a Northern Irish team, I’d love to play for a Northern Irish team. But it doesn’t quite work like that. I’ve always played golf for Ireland.
“We view golf in this island as the whole of Ireland and it’s what I’ve always done. That’s what I’m going to do down there… be proud to put on that green shirt and compete for a gold.”
Fellow golfers Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman have already pulled out of the Rio Games because of the virus, with other big names saying they won’t be competing.
If a big name like McIlroy was to pull out of this summer, it could signal a mass exodus of players from a tournament which has already had much publicity since it’s inclusion.