Brian O'Driscoll 'respects' the decision of leading Irish golfers to pull out of Rio Olympics
Brian O’Driscoll said that he 'understands' why several Irish golfers have pulled out of the Rio Olympics due to family concerns.
The Irish sporting hero acknowledged that many of the players are starting families and that travelling to Rio, where the risk of Zika virus is high, could compromise that.
Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell have withdrawn from the event due to fears of the virus, which has been linked to several birth defects.
“Obviously all of those individuals have thought long and hard about it,” the 37-year-old told independent.ie.
“In a huge number of their cases they’re just married, getting married, looking at having children and if they feel and if they’ve taken medical advice, that it’s not smart for them to go, you’ve got to respect their decision.”
Rory will reportedly wed Erica Stoll on New Year's Eve, Lowry just wed Wendy Horner in New York and McDowell and Kristin Stape wed in 2013.
The father-of-two, who has two children with wife Amy Huberman, also noted that other competitive events could be more important to some golfers.
“I’d be like everyone else where you’ve to respect people’s decision, be it because of the Zika virus, be it because of potential security issues, be it because maybe some don’t think it fits into their schedule the way everyone else sees it, or because it’s not the ultimate in a golfer’s career.”
“Is a Major bigger than the Olympic gold? Probably,” he noted.
The Clontarf-native added that he remains hopeful for Irish golf in the Olympics, despite three top players withdrawing from the competition.
“I can understand the frustration of other Olympians that this is the pinnacle.”
“But I’d be hopeful that there’s still a place for golf, because you could have amateurs play in it but you know, the world wants to see the best players in the world playing.”
“I think we’ll still see a pretty good standard,” the former Ireland rugby captain admitted.
“Each to their own, really.”