Golf superstar Rory McIlroy has announced that he will not be heading to the Rio Olympics this summer. The athlete, who was due to represent Ireland, released a statement on Wednesday saying that he was unwilling to risk his health amid the Zika virus fears.
Rory, who is engaged to his fiancée Erica Stoll, wrote: "My health and my family's health comes before everything 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."
He added: "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."
"My health and my family's health comes before everything else," said Rory McIlroy
Rory, 27, concluded by saying he will "endeavour to make my fans and fans of golf proud with my play on the course and my actions off it."
The statement comes after Rory said that he was still considering competing at Rio. He said at a press conference in June: "Even if I do contract Zika, it's not the end of the world."
The golfer got engaged to Erica Stoll last year
However his decision to withdraw will come as a blow to the Olympics and golf as a sport, which is making a return to the Games after a 112-year absence.
The Olympic Council of Ireland said they were "extremely disappointed" not to have Rory competing, but that they respected his decision. They added that they had "total confidence that the games will be safe for all athletes".
Rory had previously said: "Even if I do contract Zika, it's not the end of the world"
The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects in babies born in South America, has been declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organization.
The virus primarily affects pregnant women, however if a man were to get Zika through a mosquito bite, he could potentially affect his sexual partner and put their unborn baby at risk.
More than 150 scientists have called for the Games to be moved to another location, but organisers have rejected their request.