No Rio by the Sea-o for Zika Fearing Athletes
Apparently, golfer Rory McIlroy will not be spending time with members of the World Health Organization in August in Rio during the 2016 Olympics. McIlroy has become the biggest international name to drop out of the Games because he does not want to take a chance of getting the zika virus. The World Health Organization has released a position paper that the Rio Games should not be moved because of the zika virus. The International Olympic Committee is confident that the Games will be safe for athletes.
McIlroy is not the only golfer to withdraw from the Olympics. Australia will be without Marc Leishman who also expressed major concerns about the zika virus and how it might impact his family. Seemingly, McIlroy who is worried about the health of people around him has annoyed the Olympic Committee of Ireland with his decision. The OCI is standing by the IOC’s assurances that zika will not be a factor in the Games. Four PGA regulars are skipping Rio because of scheduling conflicts.
McIlroy doesn’t need the Olympics as he has won major tournaments and Rio is just another stop on the Tour. A cynic would say when golf was added to the Olympic program nearly a decade ago for the 2016 Games, the IOC did so in the hopes of cashing in on Tiger Woods’ popularity and sponsors. Golf was dropped by the Olympics after the 1904 Games.
So far, very few athletes have decided to skip the Games. American cyclist Tejay van Garderen will not compete and basketball’s Pau Gasol is not sure whether he will suit up for Spain. Meanwhile, there are rumors that the United States Olympic Committee is pressuring American athletes to appear in Rio. Soccer’s Hope Solo is reluctantly going adding some credence to the back-channel stories of American athletes being pressured.
Potentially, Rio could be the worst Olympics since the Munich Games in 1972.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.