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Sports

McIlroy pulls out of Olympics over Zika virus

Four-time golf major winner Rory McIlroy says he won't be travelling to the Summer Games because of health concerns. McIlroy admitted the risk of infection was low but says he's not prepared to take the risk.

Golf star Rory McIlroy has pulled out of the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro citing growing fears of the Zika virus in Brazil.

McIlroy is the biggest name yet to withdraw from the Games, which have been dogged by concerns over the epidemic.

"After speaking with those closest to me, I've come to realize that my health and my family's health comes before anything else," the Northern Irish star 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."

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."

McIlroy's decision is a blow to golf as an Olympic discipline. The sport is making a return to the Games after a 112-year absence. The International Golf Federation also said it was "disappointed" by McIlroy's decision, but added it accepted players each had to "weigh personally a unique set of circumstances."

The Summer Games, which start on August 5, have been beset with problems, including missed construction deadlines, polllution and health issues.