RORY McILROY has pulled out of the Rio Olympics after admitting that he couldn’t take the risk of contracting the Zika virus.
McIlroy, who is from Ulster but has decided to represent Ireland in international competitions, had previously said he could change his mind over playing in Rio.
World number 4 McIlroy was expected to be one of the favorites for the first Olympic golf event in over 100 years, but has now joined several high profile stars in pulling out.
He said: “After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.
“After speaking with those closest to me, I’ve come to realize that 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.
“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.
“I will continue to endeavor to make my fans and fans of golf proud with my play on the course and my actions off it.”
Fellow stars Vijay Singh, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have already announced they will not play in Brazil.
McIlroy this week fell out of the top three in golf’s world rankings after missing the cut at the US Open and seeing Dustin Johnson take victory.
McIlroy had been eligible to compete for either Great Britain or Ireland this summer but contemplated withdrawing from the event in order to avoid upsetting anyone with his choice.
He eventually opted to continue representing Ireland, as he did throughout his amateur career and twice in the World Cup.