Akron (Ohio), June 28 (IANS) World No.1 golfer Jason Day of Australia on Tuesday said he was withdrawing from the Rio Olympic Games over the threat of the Zika virus, dealing a blow to the sport making a return to the quadrennial event after 1904.
Father-of-two Day, who recently flagged worries over the Zika virus in Brazil, made his announcement at the World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational event here.
“It is with deep regret I announce that I will not be competing in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games this coming August in Rio de Janeiro,” Day said in a statement.
“The reason for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family,” the 28-year-old added.
Day is one of a number of high-profile golfers to pull out with world No.4 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, compatriot Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Marc Leishman and Vijay Singh having already said they will not compete in the sports mega-event scheduled for August 5 to 21.
The mosquito-borne Zika virus has been linked to brain defects in newborn babies.
“I have always placed my family in front of everything else in my life. Medical experts have confirmed that while perhaps slight, a decision to compete in Rio absolutely comes with health risks to me and to my family,” the 2015 PGA Championship winner continued.
“My wife Ellie and I have been blessed with two wonderful and healthy children and our plan is to have more. While it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family.
“I will not place them at risk. I hope all golf and Olympics fans respect and understand my position.”