IGF stay upbeat over Rio golf despite McIlroy withdrawal


The International Golf Federation (IGF) remains confident the sport's return to the Olympics will "truly be a special occasion", despite Rory McIlroy becoming the highest-profile withdrawal to date.

McIlroy announced on Wednesday that he will not compete at Rio 2016 due to concerns over the Zika virus.

Marc Leishman and Vijay Singh had already made similar decisions, while the likes of Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen will also miss the event - the latter duo citing scheduling issues for their respective pull-outs.

There are fears further golfers could yet opt to skip the Games, while many were critical in the first instance of golf making its return to the Olympic programme after a 112-year absence.

Nevertheless, the IGF offered a positive outlook when responding to news of McIlroy's absence.

A statement from the governing body read: "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."