Rory McIlroy will not represent Team Ireland in this year’s Olympics, citing concerns over the Zika virus in Rio.
The 27-year-old said: “My health and my family’s health comes before everything else. Even though the risk of the infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take.”
The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to brain defects in newborn babies.
This year is the first Games since 1904 where golf will feature.
The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) said they were ‘extremely disappointed’ that McIlroy had pulled out, but that they would ‘of course respect his decision’.
“Rory was set to be one of the big stars of Rio 2016. Now there is an opportunity for another Irish golfer to take up the chance to become an Olympian and participate in golf’s historic return to the Olympic Games after a 112-year absence,” they said in a statement.
“The OCI and our medical team have taken our lead from the IOC on the zika situation, as we do in all matters. They have provided us with every assurance and we have total confidence that the Games will be safe for all athletes.”
Prior to McIlroy’s announcement Australia’s Marc Leishman and Vijay Singh of Fiji had also withdrawn from this year’s Summer Olympics because of concerns over the virus.