Tuesday, June 28, 2016 6:40 pm
Golf’s top-ranked player Jason Day on Tuesday pulled out of the Rio Olympics citing concerns over the Zika virus.
The 28-year-old Australian is the latest big-name player to withdraw from the Games over the virus. Former number Rory McIlroy pulled out last week.
Day released a statement saying he was concerned about the potential risks the virus could present “to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family.’’
Day, who won his first major at last year’s PGA Championship, said it had always been a major goal to compete at the Olympics but “playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family.’’
Day and his wife, Ellie, have two children, and the golfer said they were planning to have more.
“I hope all golf and Olympics fans respect and understand my position,’’ he said.
Golf is returning to the Aug. 5 to Aug. 21 Olympics in Rio for the first time since 1904 but has been plagued with controversy over the construction of the course and the field of participants.
Day’s fellow Australians Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, South Africans Louis Oosthuizen, Chales Schwartzel and Branden Grace, and Vijay Singh of Fiji are some of the prominent names who have said they would not play in Rio.
Northern Irishman McIlroy, currently ranked fourth, had been set to represent Ireland at the Games.
He said last week: “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.’’
Zika, which is spread by mosquitoes and through sexual contact, only causes flu symptoms in most cases.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak in Latin American countries a global health emergency in February because the fast-spreading disease was also found to cause serious neurological disorders in unborn babies and adults.
However, a WHO emergency committee recently backed the Games to go ahead as there was “a very low risk of further international spread of Zika virus as a result of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,’’ in contrast to other experts who called on the event to be moved or delayed.(dpa/NAN)