Rory McIlroy might skip the Olympic golf tournament over fears of contracting the Zika virus in Rio de Janeiro.
The No. 3-ranked player in the world, who won the Irish Open on Sunday and would represent Ireland in the games, said he is “monitoring” the situation and still plans to participate.
McIlroy noted his engagement to Erica Stoll and “there’s going to be a point in the next couple of years where we’re going to have to think about starting a family,” he said. “Right now, I’m ready to go, but I don’t want anything to affect that.”
Asked if there was a chance he might not to go Rio, McIlroy replied: “Yeah. But right now I am going and looking forward to it.”
His comments were made on Sunday night and reported by the BBC.
Australia’s Marc Leishman and Fiji’s Vijay Singh have cited the Zika virus as reasons for pulling out. Australian Adam Scott and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have also announced they will not play in the August tournament, despite being eligible. They cited scheduling issues.
Golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 with both a men’s and women’s event.
McIlroy, 27, has long supported playing in the Games and a few years ago endured a controversy in which he had to choose between Ireland and the United Kingdom. McIlroy is from Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. and fields just one Olympic team; in amateur sporting competitions, McIlroy always represented all of Ireland, which he ended up choosing to do in this case.
The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and is prevalent in South America, including Rio; pregnant women or those expecting to have children have been advised to not travel to the region for the fear that the virus can cause birth defects.
“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,” said McIlroy, who will return to the U.S. to play the Memorial Tournament next week.