Rio 2016: Jason Day withdraws from Olympics due to Zika virus threat to join Rory McIlroy in missing Summer Games

Day is the second golfer to announce he will not compete in Rio inside a week after McIlroy pulled out over similar fears

Jack de Menezes
Tuesday 28 June 2016 13:35
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Jason Day has withdrawn from the Olympics in Rio due to fears over the Zika virus
Jason Day has withdrawn from the Olympics in Rio due to fears over the Zika virus

The world’s best current golfer, Jason Day, has announced that he has withdrawn from the Rio Olympics due to the threat posed by the Zika virus, just a week after Rory McIlroy made the same decision.

World No 1 Day would have been the favourite for the tournament in Rio as Golf makes its return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence, but the 28-year-old Australian has announced that he will not compete for his country over his “concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus” and the threat it could pose to the rest of his family.

In a statement released by the reigning PGA Championship winner, Day said: "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.

"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."

He joins McIlroy, Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman in withdrawing from the competition, with four-time major winner McIlroy turning down the chance to compete at the Olympics after initially choosing to represent Ireland over Team GB.

McIlroy said: “My health and my family’s health comes 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.”

Day’s decision means that two of the top four golfers in the world will not travel to Brazil for the Olympics, with Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson – second and third in the world rankings respectively – yet to announce any plans not to compete.

Zika virus is a disease that has been borne from mosquitos and has been linked to brain defects among new-born babies, with Brazil one of the hardest hit countries.

Earlier this month, London 2012 long jump gold medallist Greg Rutherford had his sperm frozen due to his own fears about the Zika virus, with his partner Susie Verrill confirming that they were taking every precaution against the disease.

"The Zika news has caused no end of concern," wrote Verrill. "We've made the decision to have Greg's sperm frozen. It's just another thing we don't want to chance."

Verrill also confirmed that neither herself nor her and Rutherford’s son, Milo, will travel to Rio for the games, adding: "We're not ones to worry unnecessarily, but after more than 100 medical experts stressed the Games should be moved to prevent the disease from spreading, this was a huge factor in us choosing to stay put.

"We'd love to have more children and, with research in its infancy, I wouldn't want to put myself in a situation which could have been prevented."

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