London: Golfing great Rory McIlroy delivered a blow to Ireland's hopes of an Olympic medal yesterday when he said he would not be going to the Rio Games over fears of the Zika virus.
Rory McIlroy watches the Euro 2016 tie between Northern Ireland and Germany in Paris on Tuesday. Pic/Getty Images
"After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro," the 27-year-old four-time major champion said in a statement.
"After speaking with those closest to me, I've come to realise that my health and my family's health come 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.
"I trust the Irish people will understand my decision. The unwavering support I receive every time I compete in a golf tournament at home or abroad means the world to me," added McIlroy, who was present at the Euro 2016 match between his native Northern Ireland and Germany in Paris on Tuesday.
McIlroy's decision left the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) dejected.
"The OCI is extremely disappointed not to be taking Rory with us to Rio," read a statement from the Council, whose president is IOC Executive Board member Pat Hickey.