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IOC chief Bach: golf withdrawals not a rejection of Olympics

Europe
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Berlin (dpa) - IOC president Thomas Bach does not see the refusal of some of golf‘s top names to play in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as a rejection of the competition.

Golf has been added to the Games schedule after last featuring in 1904.

"You can see from Martin Kaymer that it‘s about players making individual decisions," Bach told dpa on Wednesday. "He recently stressed again that the Olympic golf tournament is his priority this year."

Kaymer, Germany‘s top golfer, had said recently that both the Olympics and qualification for the European Ryder Cup team were his main goals in 2016.

By contrast, world number one Jason Day of Australia has decided not to go to Rio in August for fear of catching the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland - who, though also eligible for Great Britain, had been due to represent the Republic of Ireland at the Games - has pulled out for the same reason.

World number four McIlroy‘s place will not be taken by his fellow Northern Irishman, former US Open champion Graeme McDowell, who has opted to stay at home because his wife is due to give birth when the Games are taking place.

"I made the decision many months ago, before I was on the team, that I would not travel," McDowell said.

Other golfers avoiding Rio include former US Masters champion Adam Scott and his Australian compatriot Marc Leishman, Fiji‘s Vijay Singh, South Africa‘s Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen and another Irishman, Shane Lowry.

It is not clear why golfers are so concerned about contracting Zika when other athletes seem willing to go to Brazil, though perhaps the fact the competition lacks prestige - as golf has not been an Olympic sport for over 100 years - has meant that some have little stomach for the journey.

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