Irish Olympic golf team leader Paul McGinley says there’s “little chance” Rory McIlroy will pull out of the Rio games over the Zika virus.
“It’s an obvious question of concern to all Olympic athletes ,” McGinley said last night. "There’s very little chance Rory won’t go unless the IOCs medical experts change their view.”
IOC medical director Dr Richard Budgett said earlier this year that there are no health warnings against traveling to Brazil, except for pregnant women.
He stressed that no consideration has been given to postponing or canceling the games.
When you’re a giant of the game, it’s ironic to think that a mosquito or a microscopic virus could be a bigger threat than all your rivals.
But that’s the very real scenario in the mind of McIlroy, who may have needed couple of aspirin to recover from his deserved Dubai Duty Free Irish Open victory party before addressing his fears over the Zika virus.
Following his amazing Dubai Duty Free Irish Open victory at The K Club on Sunday, the world No 3 insisted that he wants to overtake Jordan Spieth and world No 1 Jason Day by winning majors and even a gold medal this summer.
But when speaking to BBC Northern Ireland's Stephen Watson at Carton House on Monday, he did not rule out turning down the opportunity to go for gold because of the Zika virus in Brazil.
In what will go down like the proverbial lead balloon at the International Golf Federation and IOC headquarters in Switzerland, McIlroy said he was "monitoring" the spread of the virus, which is linked to brain deformities in newborn babies.
And as he’s thinking of starting a family with fiancée Erica Stoll, it’s a concern he’s not taking lightly, presumably because she would travel with him.
”There’s going to be a point in the next couple of years where we're going to have to think about starting a family,” he told the BBC. “Right now I'm ready to go but I don't want anything to affect that.”
McIlroy still plans to go to Rio, adding: “Right now I am going and looking forward to it. As it gets closer I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold.
“But I have been reading a lot of reports about Zika and there have been some articles coming out saying that it might be worse than they're saying and I have to monitor that situation
"I am actually going to get my injections on Wednesday - at least I will be immunised for whatever... if I do get bitten by a mosquito down there.”
Winning at The K Club ended McIlroy’s six-month wait for a win and he now believes he can kick on and add to his major tally.
He’ll need to if he’s to close the gap on Jason Day, who has won seven of his last 17 starts to open up a big lead over Jordan Spieth in the world rankings with McIlroy a distant third.
Speaking to RTE Sport's Greg Allen for 2FM's Game On at Carton House, where he did an interview with David Feherty and gave the Northern Ireland soccer team a golf clinic ahead of this summer’s UEFA Euro 2016 in France, McIlroy revealed he partied hard with family and friends at The K Club on Sunday night.
He said: “I definitely did. If I couldn’t have celebrated last night I would never have celebrated.
“To be there and enjoy it with friends and family there are not many times you get to be with everyone after a win.”
It was an emotional victory for McIlroy, who donated his €666,660 winner’s cheque to his Rory Foundation, which grossed €1m from the event.
But the goal now is to kick on and win more big events and majors so he gets back to the top of the game ahead of Day and world No 2 Spieth.
Insisting his game is close to its best, bar his putting, he said: “All aspects of my game were there but I had to piece them all together and finally last week I was pieced most of it together.
“I think I averaged 32 putts for the four days. We were talking about it last night. I am not sure I have ever had as many putts to win a golf tournament.
“Hopefully I can continue to improve in that area of the game and I feel like my long game is as good as it has ever been. So I am excited for the rest of the season.”
Determined to get back to No 1, he said: “There is a lot of golf coming up and a lot of opportunities to catch the guys ahead of me with the majors, the Olympics, all the tournaments I have left this summer.
“Jason has separated himself from Jordan and myself over the past few weeks and this win has gone a little way towards closing that gap.
“I am going to have to play some great tournaments from now to the end of the year to get anywhere close to Jason. But I feel like I am on the right track and I am up for the challenge."