Rory McIlroy has decided not to compete at this summer’s Olympics in Rio due to fears over the Zika virus.
The world number four, who had pledged his allegiance to Ireland for the Games, has announced in a statement he will not be available.
McIlroy is one of a number of high-profile golfers to pull out with Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Marc Leishman and Vijay Singh having already said they will not travel to Brazil.
McIlroy said in a statement: “After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“After speaking with those closest to me, I’ve come to realise that my health and my family’s health comes before anything 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.
“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.
“I will continue to endeavour to make my fans and fans of golf proud with my play on the course and my actions off it.”
The International Golf Federation expressed its disappointment with McIlroy’s decision to avoid Rio, though understood his reasoning for pulling out.
In a statement they said: “The IGF is disappointed with Rory’s decision but recognises that some players will have to weigh personally a unique set of circumstances as they contemplate their participation in golf’s historic return to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with the Zika virus foremost among them.
“It is unfortunate that the Zika virus has led to Rory’s decision to withdraw from the Olympic Games, knowing how much he was looking forward to taking part.
“As we have stated before, the Olympics is the world’s greatest celebration of sport and we remain excited about golf’s return after a 112-year absence.
“It will truly be a special occasion for our sport and we are confident that the 60 men and 60 women who will represent their respective countries will find it an experience they will cherish forever.”