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Rory McIlroy Withdraws From Rio Olympics Due to Zika Fears

by Lisa McNally and Cassandra Vinograd /  / Updated 
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, acknowledges the crowd as he walks off the 18th hole after his round during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)Bob Leverone / AP

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Golf superstar Rory McIlroy will not be heading to Rio.

The No. 3-ranked golfer in the world said concerns about the Zika virus have prompted him to withdraw his name from consideration for the Summer Olympics.

 Rory McIlroy walks off the ninth green after finishing the continuation of the second round of the U.S. Open on June 18. Andrew Redington / Getty Images

"My health and my family's health comes before anything else," McIlroy said in a statement Wednesday. "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."

The move marks a rapid about-face for the Northern Irish athlete, who earlier in June said initial concerns about the virus had eased.

“Even if I do contract Zika, it’s not the end of the world,” McIlroy told a June 1 press conference.

McIlroy reportedly got engaged to his girlfriend Erica Stoll last year

Ireland's Olympic Council said it was "extremely disappointed" that McIlroy would not be traveling to Brazil, adding that it has "total confidence" the Games would be "safe for all athletes."

"However, as we have always said, it is down to the individual and of course we respect his decision, which he has taken for personal reasons," it said in a statement.

In addition to McIlroy, a handful of other athletes have said they will skip the Olympics due to Zika fears.

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Olympic officials have been trying to reassure athletes and travelers that Zika will not pose a big risk to the games in August.

Studies back up the claims that 500,000 athletes and fans scheduled to attend the Olympics will not be at an unusually high risk of infection.

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