Rory McIlroy says golf might be excluded from the Olympics following the number of high-profile pull-outs by players, including Australia's Adam Scott.
Scott and fellow major winners South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel along with Fijian star Vijay Singh are among those who will bypass the Games.
And McIlroy is now concerned that the International Olympic committee could expel golf again after the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“If we don’t somehow change the narrative of getting people more excited about it… I’m worried,” McIlroy told the London Telegraph. “It’s obviously being played in Rio this year and it’s being played in Tokyo in 2020. I’m not sure if we’re going to have another opportunity to win a gold medal after that, depending on what happens.”
McIlroy has elected to compete for Ireland, despite also being eligible for the Great Britain team while Jason Day, Australia's world No.1 has already signalled his intention to compete for gold.
The Northern Irishman said those who skip the games could regret their decision in years to come.
“Go play four rounds really competitively and try to win a gold medal,” McIlroy said. “Maybe I might look back in 20 years and a gold might be one of my crowning achievements in the game.”
Scott, meanwhile, has given his reasons for not playing and insists he will not change his mind.
“I just didn't get to see my family enough," Scott said. "I think I'm seeing them six days in seven weeks and it would have been six in nine weeks had I gone to the Olympics,” Scott said.
“The tough part was to choose not to represent Australia. But I feel like I do that every week.
"I've lived my life representing Australia and I feel I've tried to do the best job I can of that. Of course not everyone will understand my decision or like it, but not everyone's in my position where I feel that's something I'm not will to sacrifice some family time for.”
Scott also was concerned about his playing form when he decided to opt out of the Olympics. He played six of eight weeks, with the last week being the Masters, and was mentally and physically drained at Augusta after winning the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship back-to-back earlier this year.
"My body just didn't swing the club the same way it was when I was much fresher earlier in that Florida swing and even in Bay Hill and the Match Play, so a lesson learned there,” Scott said. “That was probably a little too much to tackle. I'm going to have to monitor that really closely the next few months through the PGA (Championship) and try and stay as fresh as I possibly can.”
Among those who have criticised Scott's decision are the legendary Jack Nicklaus who said he thought golf's growth could suffer if star players ignore the Games.