Golf: McIlroy could snub Rio Olympics over Zika fears

Rory McIlroy waves to spectators as he walks onto the 18th green before winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
Rory McIlroy waves to spectators as he walks onto the 18th green before winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy revealed on Monday he could reject the chance to play at this year's Olympics because of the Zika virus in Brazil.

Fiji's Vijay Singh and Australia's Marc Leishman have already decided not to participate in the Rio Games because of the virus, while Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have pulled out for what they say are scheduling reasons.

World No. 3 McIlroy is keeping tabs on the spread of Zika, which is linked to brain deformities in newborn babies, and the Northern Ireland star conceded it is possible he might join the growing list of absentees.

"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," he told the BBC. "Right now I'm ready to go but I don't want anything to affect that."

Asked if there was a chance he might opt to stay away, McIlroy, said: "Yeah," before adding: "Right now I am going and looking forward to it".

Golf is back at the Olympics for the first time since 1904 and McIlroy, who has won the PGA Championship twice and the British and US Opens once, has been a big supporter of the sport's return.

However, the risk of catching the virus is making the 27-year-old think twice about the trip.

"As it gets closer I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold," McIlroy added. "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 immunised for whatever... if I do get bitten by a mosquito down there."