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Zika Virus Prompts Top Australian Golfer to Withdraw from Rio Olympics

The 35th-ranked golfer in the world, Mark Leishman, announced that he won’t play for Australia at the Rio Olympics in August because of the health threat posed by the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The 32-year-old Australian joins a number of golfers jettisoning the Olympics from their golf schedules, including Vijay Singh, who told the Golf Channel last month that he’s passing on the Rio games because of the Brazil’s continuing health crisis.

“I would like to play the Olympics,” said Singh, “but the Zika virus, you know and all that crap.”

Leishman’s wife, Audrey, developed toxic shock syndrome last year, which nearly took her life. After conferring with Audrey’s doctors the three time winner on the PGA tour decided to withdraw his name from the Rio event.

“Last April my children and I almost lost Audrey,” Leishman said in a statement released by the PGA of Australia. “Since then Audrey has been prone to infection and is far removed from 100 percent recovery of her immune system.

“We have consulted with Audrey’s physician and due to her ongoing recovery and potential risks associated with the transmission of the Zika virus it was a difficult yet easy decision not to participate.”

According to Golf.com, the withdrawal by 7th-ranked golfer, Australian Adam Scott—who stated he wants to concentrate on PGA events—and Leishman’s cancellation leaves Marcus Fraser, No. 63, and Matt Jones, 71, likely replacements for the Australian Olympic golf team.

Brazil is considered ground zero for the Zika virus. The disease, as Breitbart News reported, produces microcephaly, a condition where “an infant is born with a skull too small for his or her head. The skull crushes the brain, causing a variety of neurological abnormalities.” Over 5,000 cases of microcephaly surfaced since its outbreak.

The top three players in the world Australian Jason Day, American Jordan Spieth, and Irishman Rory McIlroy expect to tee it up at Rio in July to compete for the gold medal.

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