Hideki Matsuyama said today that he would not compete in the Olympics in Rio, citing fears about the Zika virus. Matsuyama’s withdrawal is the latest blow to golf’s return to the Olympics after a century-long absence. At 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Matsuyama is by far the highest ranked Japanese golfer in the world. The next Japanese pro is Yuta Ikeda, at 89th.
Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, and Adam Scott have already withdrawn their names from Olympic consideration. Matsuyama’s absence makes the field in Rio even shallower. No American golfers have withdrawn from the games yet, although Jordan Spieth has not fully committed to going.
Many of the pros who have already withdrawn cited fears about the Zika virus as the primary cause. Some, like, Adam Scott, blamed the rushed scheduling prior to the Olympics.
Matsuyama told the Japan Times in June that he had concerns about Zika. “I know that players who are married and players who have kids are more concerned about it. I am not married but it still bothers me,” he said.
He also said that he had not been sufficiently reassured about the risks by the Japanese Olympic Committee. “I have not been contacted by anyone and it is a bit much under the current circumstances to have someone tell you to go,” he said.
Hideki Matsuyama officially WDs from the Olympics. pic.twitter.com/9biUyroHvj
— Jay Coffin (@JayCoffinGC) July 4, 2016