The Zika virus has taken a grip on the Americas and Brazil in particular, at a time when the world and his sister are set to descend on the nation for the Olympic Games in August 2016. Many of the world’s top sport stars are facing a dilemma in whether to sacrifice years of training and ambition by not attending the event, or take a chance and participate at the risk of contracting the illness.
The Zika Virus is passed on by mosquitoes and has reached such a worrying stage that there are severe, and apparently high risks of infection. What concerns the World Health Organization (WHO) most is the scale of the number of travelers from around the world who are about to hit the streets of Rio. The very real fear is that the already epidemic status of the disease may become pandemic within a matter of weeks. As a result of this startling prediction some big stars from the various spectrum’s of sport have decided not to attend the Games.
Rory McIlroy, one of the biggest sporting names on the planet has made the decision to withdraw from the Games because of the current threat of the virus. This has gained a lot of press coverage and some very hot criticism from other sports personalities. In close pursuit of his decision he has been followed by the withdrawal of fellow Irishmen Graeme McDowell, whose wife is pregnant with their second child and the recently wed Clara man, Shane Lowry.
World No.1 Jason Day and his Australian compatriot Adam Scott are other high-profile golfers who have also decided to opt out of the Olympics because of the Virus.
The decision of these golfers has thrown both the Irish and Australian selection process for their respective Olympic Golf Teams into disarray. Some may argue, and I would be one, that the inclusion of Golf, as with Tennis, should not be part of the Olympics, but how refreshing to see the maturity of these young men and how they are prepared to put the love of their families before any personal aspirations.
For all the criticism that the sports men and women who decide to withdraw will receive over the incoming months, it should never be forgotten that personal health and the well being of your family should always transcend any sporting desires.