Zika Virus Affecting Olympic Golf at Rio

It took more than 100 years to get golf back into the Olympics, and now it appears a mosquito might knock them out again.

The list of players saying they are worried about the Zika virus if they compete in Rio in August keeps growing. This past weekend, Rory McIlroy said he’s been reading about the virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, and since he is engaged to be married and thinking about starting a family, “I have to monitor that situation.”

Masters champ Danny Willett is also being mindful. “It’s not great, is it?” asked Willett. “There’s going to be 500,000 people watching the Olympics, and you have 11,000 athletes right in the heart of where it’s at. If it turns out that it would be a massive threat to myself or to Nic [his wife, Nicole] or to the little man [his month-old son], then I probably wouldn’t go. Family comes first. But as it stands at the minute, I think everything should be okay.”

Players are receiving regular updates from a number of international golf groups as well as the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control. Among the players who’ve already said they won’t compete in Rio are Vijay Singh (definitely hurting Fiji’s chance for a medal) and Australian Marc Leishman, whose wife was very ill last year and still has a weakened immune system.

As for other players, they’re likely to echo McIlroy’s sentiments when he said, “As it gets closer, I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold.”