Rory McIlroy Says Rio Withdrawals 'Not An Embarrassment' For Golf
Rory McIlroy "believes the spate of withdrawals from this summer's Olympics is not embarrassing for golf" because the Games do not represent the "pinnacle" of the sport, according to the London TELEGRAPH. McIlroy, who is due to marry fiancee Erica Stoll next year, "opted out of representing Ireland in Rio after citing his concerns over the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne virus which has been linked to defects in newborn babies and Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults." World No. 1 Jason Day and US Open runner-up Shane Lowry also "withdrew their names from consideration this week, joining a growing list of players which includes Australian pair Marc Leishman and Adam Scott, South African trio Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel and Fiji's Vijay Singh." Graeme McDowell also made himself "unavailable as his wife is due to give birth to their second child during the Games." Speaking ahead of the French Open at Le Golf National, McIlroy was "coincidentally forced to bat away an insect as he answered the first of several questions on the topic, including whether the number of withdrawals meant golf should not have returned to the Games for the first time since 1904." McIlroy: "I think that's not for me to say. I wasn't a part of the process. The R&A and some of the other bodies that run our sport thought it was a great idea, and obviously it is, to try and get golf into different markets, and the Olympics is obviously a great platform to do that. I've said to people I have four Olympic Games (major championships) a year. That's my pinnacle. That's what I play for. That's what I'll be remembered for." He added, "I'd say if the Olympic Games were in most other cities or most other countries in the world this year, you wouldn't find as many people not wanting to go and participate. I don't think it's embarrassing for the game because most other athletes dream their whole lives of competing in the Olympics, winning an Olympic Gold, and we haven't. We dream of winning Claret Jugs and we dream of winning green jackets. Whether that makes golf look insular in any way ... it's just the way it is" (TELEGRAPH, 6/29).
QUESTIONING THE MOTIVES: The BBC reported London 2012 Gold Medalist Katie Taylor has "questioned the motives of golfers who have pulled out of the Rio Olympics citing the Zika virus." After Day became the latest to opt out, Taylor tweeted, "I wonder what excuse they would have made if there was no virus. More chance of him getting killed by a spider in Australia than getting infected by the Zika virus." Irish Olympic golf team captain Paul McGinley "is disappointed with the withdrawals but respects the decisions." Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington "understands his colleagues' position." He said, "I know there has been a lot of criticism, but most of the golfers are married with families, or with families on the way, whereas 99% of the athletes going to the Games will be single. When you're married, there is more than just one person to be considered" (BBC, 6/29).