Rory McIlroy has expressed his disappointment at missing out on the Olympic Games but says it’s a risk he simply isn’t willing to take

McIlroy defends Olympics withdrawal

Rory McIlroy has expressed his disappointment at missing out on the Olympic Games but says it’s a risk he simply isn’t willing to take.

McIlroy is due to get married next year, and with concerns about the Zika virus prevalent, he says he’s prepared to wait until Tokyo in 2020 for the Olympic experience.

“You don’t want to take any risks when it comes to that stuff. I didn’t want to disappoint people and I didn’t want to disappoint Paul McGinley, who I’ve become very close with. That was one of the toughest phone calls I’ve had to make,” said McIlroy.

“I put so much work into going. I found accommodation, sorted out a chef and security down there, got everything planned out, had the injections – and two dead shoulders for four days – but ultimately I thought if I’m not 100% comfortable going down there, I don’t want to take the risk.”

Exclusive Rory McIlroy interview:

Asked whether golf should be in the Olympics in the first place, McIlroy said:

“That’s not for me to say. I wasn’t part of the process. The R&A and some of the bodies who run our sport thought it was a good idea, and obviously it is. The Olympics is obviously a great platform to get golf into different markets.

“I’ve said to people I have four Olympics each year (the Majors). That’s my pinnacle. That’s what I play for and that’s what I’ll be remembered for. But, again, as a tool to grow the game around the world, I think it’s great. Some people argue it would have been better to send amateurs there, but the whole reason it’s in the Olympics is because they wanted the best players to go and compete.

“Unfortunately, with where it is this year, people just aren’t that comfortable going down there, putting themselves and their family at risk. It’s an unfortunate situation, and I’d say that if the Olympics were in most other cities in most other parts of the world this year, you wouldn’t find as many people not wanting to go and participate.”

Related: Rory McIlroy – How I became a champion

With so many high-profile withdrawals over the past week and beyond, many have been concerned about the resulting knock-on effects in terms of golf’s reputation.

“I don’t think it’s embarrassing for golf. Most other athletes dream their whole lives about winning an Olympic gold. We haven’t. We dream about winning Claret Jugs and Green Jackets. I don’t know if that makes golf look insular in any way, but it’s just the way it is,” he said.

“I don’t think it’ll have any long-lasting effects, but it’s been a bit of a difficult time with all the negative press golf has received over the past week or so.”

McIlroy was asked why so few of the top female professionals had pulled out, to which he responded:

“I guess some of the top women golfers might not have plans to have children over the next six months or a year, but that might be different with some of the men.

“Shane has just got married, Jason Day has a young family and I’m getting married next year. You can’t really compare apples to apples. I’d say 90% of the athletes going to the Olympics are single and have no plans to start a family in the near future.”

Martin Kaymer, however, reaffirmed his commitment to represent Germany in Rio.

“There were a lot of people who worked so hard to get golf into the Olympic Games, form all different countries, and now all the best players are pulling out.

“It’s very sad for me, someone who is passionate about the Olympic Games, but at the end of the day, if it makes it easier for me to become a Gold Medal winner, I’m fine with it.”