SYDNEY, Australia, Thursday June 30, 2016 – Fears over the Zika virus have claimed their latest casualty with the withdrawal of world number one golfer Jason Day from the Rio Olympics.
The 28-year-old Australian follows the Northern Ireland duo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, Fiji’s Vijay Singh, Marc Leishman of Australia and South Africa’s Branden Grace in announcing his intention not to compete at the Games, which are scheduled to get underway on August 5.
The threat of the mosquito-borne virus, which can lead to serious birth defects, has been cited as the reason for withdrawal by the golfing greats as the sport makes its comeback to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.
Zika has also been linked to rare adult-onset neurological problems such as the Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can result in paralysis and death.
Day expressed “deep regret” about his decision in a post on Twitter.
— Jason Day (@JDayGolf) June 28, 2016
“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,” the golf champ wrote.
“I have always placed my family in front of everything else in my life … My wife Ellie and I have been blessed with two wonderful and healthy children and our plan is to have more.
“While it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent [sic] over the safety of our family,” Day said.
Closer to home, Jamaican sprinter Kemar Bailey-Cole revealed at the weekend that he had contracted the Zika virus, but said he still planned to run in his country’s Olympic trials.
Meanwhile, the partner of British long jump champion Greg Rutherford has revealed that the London gold medallist had frozen his sperm as a precaution.