Matsuyama withdraws from Olympics over Zika concerns

Hideki Matsuyama has followed Jason Day and Rory McIlroy out of the Rio Olympics, opting not to compete because of concerns about the Zika virus, the Japanese golfer said on Sunday.

“I won’t go. I’m not competing,” Matsuyama said after the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational, where he ended up in a tie for 42nd place.

“Aside from the Zika fever, I have an allergic reaction to bug bites so I felt it’s probably best for me to avoid going to areas where I’ll have concerns.

“If I go there, get stung and swell up it’ll probably make matters even worse. There’s the safety issue as well. I made the decision based on a number of things.”

Golf is set to return to the games for the first time in 112 years. The field is based on the world rankings, but already No. 1 Day and No. 4 McIlroy have pulled out citing worries about the Zika virus, which is transmitted through mosquito bites.

Matsuyama is the highest-ranked Japanese at 16th. Asked if the decision to sit out was a difficult one, he said, “I don’t know if it’s a good decision or not, but there’s not much time so I had to decide quickly.

“It might be in the best interests (for Japanese golf) to play at the Olympics, but I don’t know if it’s worth all the risk. Maybe it would have been different if it was a team competition and not stroke play.”

With one week remaining before qualifying ends through the world ranking, Japan’s two spots currently would go to Hideto Tanihara and Yuka Ikeda. Tanihara won on the Japan Golf Tour on Sunday to move into the No. 2 spot among Japanese players even before Matsuyama withdrew.

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