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Rory McIlroy should give Olympic Games a go... he would love it

By Steven Beacom

Published 20/07/2016

Star quality: Rory McIlroy gets up close with the fans during the final round of The Open at Royal Troon
Star quality: Rory McIlroy gets up close with the fans during the final round of The Open at Royal Troon
Jordan Spieth

Rory McIlroy would learn to love playing golf in the Olympic Games if he gave the greatest show on earth a chance.

So says Phil Glasgow, who has worked for both Ireland and Team GB at the Olympics and will be the latter's Chief Physiotherapy Officer in Rio.

Last month McIlroy revealed that he would not be representing Ireland at this year's Olympics, citing concerns over the Zika Virus.

Ahead of The Open Championship at Royal Troon last week, McIlroy's feelings on golf at the Games became abundantly clear when he said: "I'll probably watch the Olympics, but I'm not sure golf will be one of the events I'll watch."

Asked to name the events he would watch, the four-time major winner replied: "Probably track and field, swimming, diving, the stuff that matters."

He was criticised for those comments within the golf fraternity and by athletes from other sports.

McIlroy is just one of a number of top golfers to reject a trip to Rio, with Jordan Spieth (above) and Jason Day among those not going.

Glasgow, who is Head of Sports Medicine at Sports Institute Northern Ireland, says: "Rory is being honest about his feelings and you do like honesty with people saying what they think rather than trying to put a front.

"I can't help but feel though that if top golfers like Rory were at the Games and experienced what it is all about over a couple of cycles, the Games would become a flagship event for the sport in years to come, just like the way tennis at the Olympics is viewed now by the top players.

"If we assume that golf will stay in the Olympics I think it could take the same journey as tennis and I would love to see someone like Rory go to the Games in the future, do well and win a medal. I believe that if he experienced it he would think it was amazing.

"The Olympics is the biggest show on earth and is like nothing else and until you have experienced it you don't appreciate that."

When opting out of Rio, sports stars have stated their fears over the Zika Virus, which is associated with potential birth defects for children of those who contract it.

Glasgow says: "We have done a huge amount of work in the background liaising with the World Health Organisation, speaking with the Department of Health and taking clear advice from different organisations which specialise in the disease. We are very confident with all that advice that if you do the right things in terms of insect repellants and bite protection strategies that the risk of being bitten and contracting Zika is very low indeed.

"It's true athletes have regularly asked about Zika and we have been very pro-active and have had regular updates and advice for staff and athletes.

"We are providing everyone with the appropriate repellants they will wear and will be reinforcing that every day.

"Add in the fact that it will be winter in Rio when the Olympics will be on and that reduces the risk of being bitten.

"We are aware of the associated birth defects and we have given the appropriate advice to people about avoiding starting a family for a period of time afterwards, particularily if they have contracted the virus."

Belfast Telegraph

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