Lack of money, not Zika rea­son for golfers’ Rio with­drawals

Daily Trust - - SPORT -

The head of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics says the world’s top four male golfers have with­drawn from the Games be­cause there is no money to be won - not be­cause of the Zika virus.

“They tried to blame Zika, but the me­dia have shown that they are not com­ing be­cause there’s no prize money,” Rio or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee Pres­i­dent Car­los Nuz­man said Satur­day, speak­ing with the Games set to open in just un­der three weeks.

Jor­dan Spi­eth was the last of the top four to with­draw from the Olympics, cit­ing health con­cerns and other mat­ter he said were per­sonal. Ja­son Day, Dustin John­son and Rory McIl­roy said Zika was the main rea­son for skip­ping the first Olympic golf tour­na­ment in 112 years. Their ab­sence could be a set­back for golf’s fu­ture in the Olympics. IOC Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach has said that golf’s fu­ture may rest on its abil­ity to get top play­ers to show up.

Golf is guar­an­teed a spot in the Tokyo Olympics in four years, but could be vul­ner­a­ble af­ter that.

“Zika is much worse in Florida than in Brazil, and golfers are play­ing in Florida,” Nuz­man said.

Male golfers have also cited se­cu­rity wor­ries, and some have com­plained that Olympic golf has been wedged into an al­ready crowded tour sched­ule.

Rio has myr­iad Olympic prob­lems: Zika, se­cu­rity con­cerns, se­vere wa­ter pol­lu­tion and slug­gish ticket sales.

Rio Mayor Ed­uardo Paes warned in the wake of the at­tack Thurs­day in Nice, France, that fans in Rio could face more checks, more road­blocks and more de­lays.

“Prob­a­bly the se­cu­rity forces are go­ing to de­mand more block­ades, more in­con­ve­nient things,” Paes said.

Rory McIl­roy of North­ern Ire­land, one of the golfers that with­drew from the Rio Games over Zika virus

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