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With concerns surrounding the Zika virus on the rise, Rory McIlroy has announced that he is pulling out of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. This has sparked controversy online causing his Adorescore (a brand index measuring emotion on a scale of -100 to +100) to plummet from his usual 54 to -48, as people discuss the implications that this will have for his career, and for the place of golf in the Olympics. On Wednesday 22 June, world No.4 golfer Rory Mcllroy stated that he will not be competing at the 2016 Olympics due to fears over the Zika virus outbreak [1]. The 16-day-long event will be held in Brazil from 5th-21st August. Up to 206 countries will participate in 42 different sport disciplines that make up the Olympic games [3].

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus which could cause neurological problems in adults and birth defects in children. Since it’s outbreak in Brazil last May, the virus has rapidly spread into 40 other countries in the Americas. As result of its relentless widespread, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global emergency and the government of Brazil has issued a warning to pregnant women to stay away from the Olympic games [5]. An assessment carried out by the WHO’s emergency committee concluded that the virus poses no threat to residents, spectators and athletes, and has a low risk of spreading internationally as a result of Rio games [2]. Having chosen to represent the Republic of Ireland, the four-time major winner stated that his priorities are his and his family’s health. Mcllroy’s withdrawal leaves the sport of golf with a tougher struggle to remain in the Olympics, after being absent for 112 years.

Weeks ago, when Mcllroy first announced his intention to not participate because of the virus, his Adorescore was then 58. Following his confirmation, his Adorescore plummeted to -48, with high levels of loathing, after many have expressed their dismay at Mcllroy’s decision. The Olympic Council of Ireland has released a statement saying it is “extremely disappointed” not to have Rory with them at Rio [4]. Yesterday, Irish golf player Graeme McDowell also declared that he will not be available for the Olympics as he is expecting the birth of his second child within a few weeks before the games begin. According to the Irish Olympic council, this presents an opportunity for another Irish golfer to represent their country in the sport’s historic return to the Olympics.

Was McIlrory right to have pulled out? According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Zika-carrying mosquitoes do not live at elevations above 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) as the conditions there are harsh for them [6]. This means that people living at such altitudes stand a lower risk of coming in contact with the virus. However, none of the Olympic games will be held at such elevations. In fact, the highest elevation during the games will be at the Beach Volley Arena at 44 meters above sea level. Golf events will take place at the Olympic Golf course which has an elevation of 5 meters and could be considered a low-risk sport.

Adoreboard’s opinion is that the decision is consistent with his personal values – we see McIlory as someone not afraid to make tough decisions if it doesn’t sit well with his personal views regardless of opportunity.


[1] Murray, E. (2016) Rory McIlroy pulls out of Rio Olympics due to fears over Zika virus. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jun/22/rory-mcilroy-pulls-out-olympics-golf (Accessed: 24 June 2016).
[2] Press Association (2016) Very low risk of Zika virus spreading internationally after Olympics, WHO says. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/14/very-low-risk-of-zika-virus-spreading-internationally-after-olympics-who-says (Accessed: 24 June 2016).

[3] Rio 2016 (2016) Available at: https://www.rio2016.com/en (Accessed: 24 June 2016)

[4] OCI statement on Rio McIlroy’s decision concerning Rio 2016 (2010) Available at: https://www.olympics.ie/news/14763-oci-statement-on-rio-mcilroys-decision-concerning-rio-2016.html (Accessed: 24 June 2016).

[5] Kirk, A. (2016) Zika outbreak: Where is the virus spreading? Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/22/zika-outbreak-where-is-the-virus-spreading/ (Accessed: 24 June 2016).

[6] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016). Questions and answers: Zika risk at high elevations. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/q-a-zika-risk-high-elevations (Accessed: 24 June 2016).