There was huge news this morning as it was announced that golfer Rory McIlory has decided to pull out of the Rio Olympics. McIlroy's decision was due to the threat of the deadly Zika virus that is prominent in Brazil at the moment.
The Olympic Council of Ireland was accepting of McIlroy's decision but they have been keen to put the fears over the Zika virus to bed.
The OCI and our medical team have taken our lead from the IOC on the zika situation, as we do in all matters. They have provided us with every assurance and we have total confidence that the Games will be safe for all athletes.
We are now following the IOC’s recommendations, as well as the recommendations of the Rio 2016 organisers, the World Health Organisation and national health authorities, to ensure that Team Ireland’s athletes are kept fully updated with the latest and best advice and that they are equipped to take all necessary precautions.
The real issue for most Irish sports fans is whether to accept that this has anything to do with Zika.
Predictably Twitter exploded upon the news being released, and there were varying reactions.
Two of the most interesting responses to the news have come from Darren O'Neill and Natalya Coyle. Kilkenny boxer O'Neill, who missed out on qualification for the men's 75kg weight division just this weekend had an understandably emotive response to the news.
I have cried tears & spilled blood in trying to qualify for Rio. This affirms my opinions. We are better w/o him!! https://t.co/kzjxKQfKFr
— Darren O'Neill (@DarrenONeil) June 22, 2016
Meanwhile, Modern Pentathlete and (formerly) fellow Olympic team member Natalya Coyle wasn't exactly buying the Zika excuse.
Given the to-ing and fro-ing over whether to represent Ireland in the first place, plenty have made the point that McIlroy's huge levels of enthusiasm for playing in major championships have never quite been replicated when it comes to the Olympics.
Sift through his interviews from last couple of years. Rory McIlroy was never exactly enthusiastic about representing Ireland in Rio.
— Kieran Cunningham (@KCsixtyseven) June 22, 2016
Going to be awkward when Rory McIlroy pulls out of Tokyo 2020 due to the fact that he feels Godzilla is due an attack
— Gavan Casey (@GavanCasey) June 22, 2016
Let's face it Rory was never enthusiastic about the Olympics. Nike will be happy; their 'star' won't now have to wear New Balance gear #Rio
— Sean McGoldrick (@SeanMcGoldrick1) June 22, 2016
To be fair, they were probably three of the more publishable opinions from that side of the fence. It won't take too much of an imagination to figure out what a large swathe of the sporting population is saying about the decision but there has been an acceptance that perhaps it is the right decision for McIlroy.
And the reality is that, with the likes of Marc Leishman, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen all having pulled out of the games, the issue is not so much to do with McIlroy as it is to do with golf at the Olympics.
Golf's hopes of making its Olympic presence permanent takes another major hit with Rory McIlroy's decision to skip Rio. That's no bad thing
— Brendan O'Brien (@byBrendanOBrien) June 22, 2016
From a medical perspective, the odds of contracting Zika are very low.
...than contracting Dengue fever. She is happy with prep and safety measures. She WILL be on the plane to Rio. 2/2
— Emmet Ryan, temporary Northsider (@emmetjryan) June 22, 2016
However, when you're a professional golfer and the Olympics are not that important to your career, is it really worth taking the risk?
For McIlroy, and probably quite a few athletes to follow, you'd have to think that, as low as the risk might be, the pay-off of Olympic glory, just isn't worth it.