I wrote about the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Rio just last month on this site talking about the disappointment of the state of Brazil coming into the games next month. Between the political upheaval, sewage infested water, Zika virus, and everything else, it isn’t set up for a wonderful experience for anyone right now. In 2009 the Olympic Committee decided to remove a sport like wrestling, but then insert golf. A multitude of golf course architects submitted detailed proposals for the right to be the person to design an olympic golf venue. Gil Hanse was the designer chosen and has spent years upon years trying to ensure that the top players in the world got to experience an elite golf course as they played for their country trying to earn golf’s first gold medal in over 100 years. There is only one problem…the top four players in the world have decided to drop out and not go to the olympic games.
In order of their world ranking, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy have all decided that they aren’t making the trek to Rio. This is not only a big blow to golf in the Olympics but to the PGA Tour as well. The tour has played a compressed schedule moving tournaments around to be able to allow players to represent their countries in these games. However, when the top four players in the game, coming from three different continents don’t want to play in the Olympics, it doesn’t bode well for the sport.
While deciding not to play when you have the chance to represent your country may make these players look like spoiled brats, I don’t think that is a fair assessment. Between their on course earnings and endorsements, these four men have enough money to last multiple generations. You can’t put them in the same category as a sprinter in the 100 meter dash or a 15 year old gymnast. These players have already made a name for themselves, and don’t want to be subjected to the safety concerns and well as the effects of what the Zika virus could hold, and they are at a point in their lives when they are considering starting a family. Too much blame is being put toward these golfers saying that they don’t want to wear the colors of their country and would rather take a couple of weeks off. While they may not directly say it publicly, I can assure you that if the games were in London or Los Angeles, or some other stable place, these four men wouldn’t be dropping out. While nobody knows what will happen in Rio next month, whether there is political unrest, water issues causing issues, or even the Zika virus, everyone is hoping for the best. Tons of athletes work their entire lives to get the opportunity to participate in these games and represent their country, and it is a shame that they have to deal with the issues that an olympics in Rio De Janeiro will present. However, the top golfers in the world, didn’t work and train their entire lives to play in the olympics, they trained to win golf majors. While they all originally committed to the games, it is short sighted to insinuate that these men are lazy or don’t care about their country. Unfortunately the current state of Brazil forced them to make a difficult decision that they will have to answer to for years to come.