Top Four Pulling Out Of Rio Puts Golf's Olympic Future In Doubt
Jordan Spieth added his name to the list of top golfers not travelling to Brazil to have the chance to get an Olympic medal in golf for the first time in 112 years. That means the top four in the world all won't be at the tournament plunging the sport's future at the games in doubt.
The two time major winner joined Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, amongst some other big names, as those dropping out of the chance to represent their countries at the games all citing the zika virus as the reason.
Whilst you can find yourself on dodgy grounds criticising someone for their stance on zika and other health risks the disparity of top male golfers withdrawing from the games compared to any sport simply can't be ignored and it feels like golfers just don't see the competition as big enough with their four majors.
That feeling has spread to those that matter with International Olympic Committee official Richard Peterkin tweeting that the withdrawals could be harming the sport's chances of staying in the games past Tokyo in 2020 saying, "Well I guess Golf is not really that interested in remaining on the Sports Program. Lots of other interested sports."
IOC president Thomas Bach added, "The IOC, of course, has to respect the decisions of the athletes. But it is obvious that this does not help the attractiveness of the golf competition."
Zika virus can lead to severe brain malformations, and other birth defects transferring from a mother to her fetus and so players planning on having children in the next two years may not feel comfortable with the risks however none of the top women have pulled out of the tournament and in Olympic test events over 17,000 participants, including spectators, athletes and officials, there were no cases of the disease which is carried by mosquitos.
Of course the issue isn't with all golfers with former world number one Martin Kaymer understanding the importance of Olympic gold saying earlier this year that winning in Rio this year was more important to him than the majors.
Golf hasn't been in the games for over 100 years and isn't guaranteed it's place after Tokyo with the likes of karate, squash and many others desperate to find their place in the games and you can guarantee that they'd treat it as the most important competition in their sport.
The Olympics haven't suffered in the 112 years there's been no golf, you can't help but feel it'll do better without it come 2024.
(h/t The Times)