Brazilian Olympic golf hopeful Victoria Lovelady says that concern over the Zika virus has been largely overblown, rating her concern over the public health scare as a minimal 3 percent.
The Ladies European Tour player is currently ranked 60th in the Olympic standings and hopes to qualify behind countrywoman Miriam Nagl, who sits 58th. As the host country, one Brazilian golfer will automatically qualify for competition.
And while many of the world’s best male players have pulled out of the 2016 Olympic Games and cited concerns about Zika as their primary motivations, fear of the mosquito-borne virus is not dampening Lovelady’s Olympic dreams.
“It’s hard to know if the boys are using this in order to have a scapegoat to not come to the Olympics, or if they’re truly scared,” Lovelady told Golfweek. “Not being from a developing country or a tropical country, I think everybody can be scared.”
World Nos. 1 and 4 Jason Day and Rory McIlroy have both withdrawn from Olympic consideration. Second-ranked Jordan Spieth remains undecided, while third-ranked Dustin Johnson has said he will compete. Only one female golfer, Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa, has publicly announced her withdrawal.
For Lovelady, it’s a chance to showcase her country’s love of a sport often overshadowed by soccer.
“Being Brazilian, I’ve never gotten asked so much about golf by non-golfers,” she said. “Golf is actually a sport that is played in Brazil, hello!”