Australian golf captain Ian Baker-Finch says he “emphatically” supports Marc Leishman’s decision to withdraw his candidacy for Rio Olympic selection over fears for his wife’s health.
Leishman, Australia’s No.3 ranked male golfer, said his decision was based on concerns his wife Audrey – whose immune system is recovering from toxic shock syndrome – could be exposed to the effects of the Zika virus prevalent in parts of Brazil.
“Given Marc’s rightful dedication to his wife and young family, I’d have been surprised had he made any other decision actually,” Baker-Finch said.
“His statement was heartfelt and said it all … I think any criticism of his decision just isn’t warranted.”
Baker-Finch said the next handful of players in line for the second men’s berth were all “really keen” if they won the right to represent Australia in Rio.
“I note that some have been critical of golf’s role within the Olympic family and questioned the eagerness of the players,” the 1991 Open champion said.
“But that’s not the case. We have our two top women champing at the bit to get there and the world No.1 male already has his bags half-packed, he’s that keen.
“And I’ve spoken to the next handful of guys who are closest in line to qualifying and they’re all really keen if they get that chance.
“We have had two guys (including Adam Scott), both for totally justifiable family reasons, opt out. That doesn’t diminish what it means to our country for golf to be in the Games.
“All the players I’ve spoken to about the opportunity can’t wait to get there and I promise you’ll see exactly how much it means to them once we arrive in Brazil.”