Rory McIlroy will not take part in this summer’s Rio Olympics due to health concerns regarding the Zika virus.
The world number four, who was set to represent Team Ireland in Brazil, revealed last month he was monitoring the situation and taking advice before making a final decision over whether to compete.
Following McIlroy’s recent engagement to Erica Stoll the Northern Irishman has decided to miss golf’s return to the games for the first time since 1904.
“After speaking with those closest to me, I’ve come to realize that my health and my family’s health comes before anything else. Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take.
“I trust the Irish people will understand my decision. The unwavering support I receive every time I compete in a golf tournament at home or abroad means the world to me.
“I will continue to endeavor to make my fans and fans of golf proud with my play on the course and my actions off it.”
The International Golf Federation, which is recognised by the International Olympic Commission as the world governing body for golf, said: “The IGF is disappointed with Rory’s decision but recognises that some players will have to weigh personally a unique set of circumstances as they contemplate their participation in golf’s historic return to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with the Zika virus foremost among them.
“It is unfortunate that the Zika virus has led to Rory’s decision to withdraw from the Olympic Games, knowing how much he was looking forward to taking part.
“As we have stated before, the Olympics is the world’s greatest celebration of sport and we remain excited about golf’s return after a 112-year absence.
“It will truly be a special occasion for our sport and we are confident that the 60 men and 60 women who will represent their respective countries will find it an experience they will cherish forever.”
Fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell has ruled himself out of the running to replace McIlroy with his wide due to give birth shortly after the conclusion of the games.