Jason Day, the world’s top ranked golfer, withdrew from the Olympics on Tuesday due to concerns about the Zika virus.
“The sole 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,” Day said in a statement. “I have always placed my family in front of everything else in my life.”
Say said that “medical experts have confirmed that while perhaps slight, a decision to compete in Rio absolutely comes with health risks to me and to my family.” Golf is returning to the Olympics after a century-long absence, and Day said “while it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family. I will not place them at risk.”
“I hope all golf and Olympics fans respect and understand my position,” he said.
Day and his wife Ellie have two children, and Day has reportedly said that he would like to have more kids.
“With Rory and myself pulling, I don’t know if that will trigger anyone else,” Day added. “Some guys are in different situations. Some guys are younger and single and can take that chance, and some guys are in the same situation as me and have children or going to have children, get married and stuff like that. It’s a difficult one for those guys.”
Six golfers have so far announced that they will not be attending the Olympics in Brazil this summer. Day and Rory McIlroy are the most prominent. Shane Lowry, who was the third-round leader at this year’s U.S. Open, withdrew this week as well. Lowry recently got married and wants and plans to start a family. Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, and Marc Leishman, whose wife nearly died from toxic shock syndrome last year, are the other three who have announced they will not be attending the Summer Games.