Date: June 06, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Day flags Zika Games concerns

Jason Day has opened the possibility of missing the Rio Olympics with concerns over the Zika virus.

It’s understood the world No.1 is one of a handful of elite US PGA Tour players considering whether or not to attend the Games in Brazil over fears for their partners and future children.

Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation classified Zika, a mosquito-transmitted illness that can result in microcephaly and other developmental problems in infants, as a “public health emergency of international concern”.

And despite recent reports from many health professionals and respective Olympic committees that the Games will proceed safely, Day said he wanted to be sure before committing.

“It’s difficult to say right now,” said the Australian, the father of Dash, 3 and Lucy, seven months, but whose wife Ellie has made no secret of her desire for a big family.

“We’re just really trying to monitor what’s going on and make an educated decision because obviously we’re not done having kids.”

Should Day pass on the Olympics, it would be a huge blow to golf, back in the Games for the first time since St Louis in 1904.

A number of players have already pulled out — including fellow Australians Adam Scott and Marc Leishman, South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, and Fiji’s Vijay Singh – but none as high profile as the 28-year-old Day, who has three US PGA Tour victories this year and seven in the past year.

“Obviously (incidents of the disease) could happen in the (United) States, but I think if you are putting yourself down there (in Brazil), there is a chance of you getting it,” said Day, who’s also made no secret of his desire to win an Olympic medal and enjoy the Games experience.

“We are going to explore every avenue to make sure we make an educated decision before we go down there.

“It’s just hard. It’s a medical issue. We will see. We have to see an independent doctor, not just the PGA doctor. I’m not saying it’s bias. I’m just saying we need independent advice.

“I think there’s a lot of guys who are on the fence about it because they don’t want to put themselves in harm’s way.”

Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball pitcher Francisco Rodriguez last week said he contracted Zika in Venezuela during the off-season and was sick for weeks and a soccer player who is a friend of Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama had also recently been afflicted.

“I don’t think it’s an Olympic issue, I don’t think it’s a Rio issue,” Day said. “I think it’s a medical issue that’s attached to `What happens if I go there, get it, and bring it back?’ – because they don’t know.

“The recommendation from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) is `X’, but you don’t know how long it will last in your body.

“So I am a little wary … I just have to make a smart, educated decision on whether I go or not.”

World No.3 Rory McIlroy had previously raised the same fears, but this weekend said was no longer worried about the Zika virus and that he was now “ready to play” in Rio.

“I feel like the advice I've sought out over the past 10 days has put my mind at ease and makes me more comfortable going down there knowing that, even if I do contract Zika, it's not the end of the world. It takes six months to pass through your system and you're fine.”