Golf: Singh out of Olympics, reportedly citing Zika concerns

Vijay Singh during the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament, at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016.
Vijay Singh during the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament, at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

(AFP) - Fiji's former world No. 1 Vijay Singh will not compete at the Rio Olympics, officials in the Pacific island nation said on Thursday, with reports saying he was concerned about the Zika virus.

Golf Fiji said the three-time Major champion had informed them he would not be attending the Games in August.

"I can confirm that is the case," spokesman Ofa Swann told AFP.

Golfchannel.com quoted the US-based 53-year-old as saying he felt bad about not attending but was concerned about Zika and wanted to concentrate on the PGA Tour.

"The timing of it, you know I have to focus over here," he said.

"I would like to play the Olympics, but the Zika virus, you know and all that."

The Rio Olympics are being staged against a backdrop of fears about the mosquito-borne Zika virus, with thousands of cases reported in Brazil.

On Wednesday, US health authorities confirmed long-held suspicions that it causes birth defects, including microcephaly, a defect in which babies are born with unusually small heads.

Swann said Singh's management had not mentioned Zika when he announced his withdrawal, instead citing "a full schedule".

Singh was world No. 1 for 32 weeks in 2004-05 and won the last of his 34 PGA titles in 2008.