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Rory McIlroy changes his tune about competing at Rio Olympics amid Zika virus fears


Rory McIlroy was relieved to get his first win of the year in the Irish Open

Rory McIlroy was relieved to get his first win of the year in the Irish Open

Rory McIlroy was relieved to get his first win of the year in the Irish Open

World number three Rory McIlroy says his concerns about competing in the Olympics this year due to the ongoing threat of the Zika virus have eased.

McIlroy is set to represent Ireland in Rio as golf returns to the Games for the first time since 1904, but revealed last month he was monitoring the situation in Brazil following his engagement to Erica Stoll and Zika's links to defects in newborn babies.

Former Masters and US PGA champion Vijay Singh and Australia's Marc Leishman have already announced their withdrawal because of worries relating to the mosquito-borne virus.

"Since then I've sought out some advice and I had two dead shoulders for about four days last week because I got my shots and whatever I needed to get for going down there," McIlroy told a press conference on Wednesday ahead of the Memorial Tournament. "Obviously, there's no vaccination for Zika.

"I think what the health experts are really worried about, it's not the individual cases. It's the fact that 500,000 people go to Rio and they spend three weeks at the Games, they go back out of Rio and some might have contracted Zika and don't know about it, and then all of a sudden instead of it being this virus that's contained in a certain part of the world, it's now a global epidemic. And I think that's the real concern.

"So for me to go down there, even if I was to get Zika, it's six months and it's a virus and it works its way out of your system. And it's nice that we can come back, and (if you) feel like you've had some of the symptoms down there, you can get tested for it, and it's either a yes or a no you've had it.

"I'm ready to play. I feel like the advice I've sought out over the past 10 days has put my mind at ease and makes me more comfortable going down there knowing that, even if I do contract Zika, it's not the end of the world. It takes six months to pass through your system and you're fine."

Masters champion Danny Willett, whose son Zachariah was born just 12 days before his triumph at Augusta, echoed McIlroy's concerns about Zika last week and said he would not compete in Rio if it proved "a massive threat."

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