McIlroy 'monitoring' Zika as Olympics grow closer

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Hours after winning the Irish Open, Rory McIlroy hinted that he may skip the Olympics amid growing concerns over the Zika virus, according to a BBC report.

At No. 3 in the world ranking, McIlroy is a lock to qualify for the Olympics, where he would likely join Shane Lowry in representing Ireland. While players like Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have recently withdrawn from Olympic consideration, citing scheduling concerns, Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman both withdrew from consideration after specifically citing the virus as a factor.

Though McIlroy stopped short of pulling out of the competition, he did indicate that the virus could impact his ultimate decision.

"As it gets closer, I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold," McIlroy said. "But I have been reading a lot of reports about Zika and there have been some articles coming out saying that it might be worse than they're saying, and I have to monitor that situation."

The virus is transmitted both sexually and through mosquito bites, and can lead to birth defects. The World Health Organization continues to monitor the situation, but the agency's chief said just last week that the virus' impact is on the rise.

"The more we learn about Zika, the more worried we get about it," said Dr. Margaret Chan.

McIlroy said he plans to get an immunization this week to guard against a potential infection via mosquito. He and fiancee Erica Stoll got engaged in December, and the 27-year-old added that plans for children in the near future may also impact his decision about whether to head down to Brazil in August.

"There's going to be a point in the next couple of years where we're going to have to think about starting a family," he said. "Right now I am ready to go (to Rio), but I don't want anything to affect that."