Sport Golf

Saturday 21 April 2018

Rory McIlroy says Zika outbreak could stop him representing Ireland at Rio Olympics

Rory McIlroy hopes he and fiancee Erica Stoll will start a family
Rory McIlroy hopes he and fiancee Erica Stoll will start a family
Rory McIlroy answers questions after winning the Irish Open

Harry Clarke

Rory McIlroy has revealed he is "monitoring" the Zika outbreak in South America ahead of this year's Olympics in Rio.

The Irish Open champion will fly the flag for Ireland in Brazil when golf makes a return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.

But speaking to BBC Northern Ireland, McIlroy admitted there was still a chance he may not travel to Rio as he and fiancee Erica Stoll have plans to start a family at some stage in the future.

When contracted by pregnant women, the Zika virus can cause fetal abnormalities. However, evidence suggests that if a woman who is not pregnant contracted Zika, it would not affect any future pregnancies.

"There's going to be a point in the next couple of years where we're (with fiancee Erica Stoll) going to have to think about starting a family," McIlroy told the BBC.

"Right now I'm ready to go but I don't want anything to affect that."

Rory McIlroy won last year's Irish Open
Rory McIlroy won last year's Irish Open

When pushed if there was a chance he may not travel to Rio, McIlroy said: "Yeah. Right now I am going and looking forward to it.

"As it gets closer I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold.

"But I have been reading a lot of reports about Zika and there have been some articles coming out saying that it might be worse than they're saying and I have to monitor that situation.

"I am actually going to get my injections on Wednesday - at least I will be immunised for whatever, if I do get bitten by a mosquito down there."

McIlroy also admitted that if there was a Northern Ireland team, that's who he would be lining out for in Rio.

"I used to view the Olympics with a bit of resentment because it made me really think about who I was and where I was from," added McIlroy.

"If there was just a Northern Irish team, I'd love to play for a Northern Irish team.

"But it doesn't quite work like that. I've always played golf for Ireland.

"We view golf in this island as the whole of Ireland and it's what I've always done. That's what I'm going to do down there - be proud to put on that green shirt and compete for a gold."

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