Olympics: Golfer McIlroy withdraws from Rio Games

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the third hole at the US Open golf tournament at Oakmont Country Club on June 16, 2016.
Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the third hole at the US Open golf tournament at Oakmont Country Club on June 16, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS

LONDON (Reuters) - Four-times Major winner Rory McIlroy will not compete in this summer's Rio Olympic Games, citing health fears over the Zika virus, he said on Wednesday.

"After speaking with those closest to me, I've come to realize 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," the Northern Irish world number four said.

Golf returns to the Olympics in August for the first time since 1904, but a number of big names including Fiji's Vijay Singh and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa have also said they will not compete in the event.

Controversy over the Aug 5-21 Games has grown as more about the disease becomes known. The mosquito-borne virus can cause crippling birth defects and, in adults, has been linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre.