The Zika virus has forced the world’s top four golfers to skip the Rio Olympics in Brazil.
Citing concerns for the health of their respective families, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy have all opted out of what is arguably the greatest sporting show on earth that will take place next month for the first time in South America.
The virus is known to adversely affect pregnant women, resulting in deformities in their prospective child.
In choosing not to attend the 2016 Olympic Games, Day and company will probably miss welcoming golf, which is returning after more than 100 years to the quadrennial clash on who can go faster or higher beyond what the human body can normally do.
To the rest of the golfers who had qualified to tee off in August in samba country, the absence of the Top 4 would probably pump them up psychologically that the greens have been cleared for them for a possible podium finish.
But then, Day and the three others could as easily bombed out as the next golfer practicing his swing, and they would just have made the intimidation factor bigger if they decided to fly to Pele’s hometown.
The tables having been turned, it would be possible for the young Filipino wunderkind Miguel Tabuena to have that chance of a lifetime of becoming the first Filipino—men or women—to win an Olympic gold medal in any sport also after more than 100 years of participation in the Games.
Like the Top 4, Angelo Que, the other golfer from the Philippines who had qualified for Rio, had elected to give up his legitimate ticket to Brazil.
Que, a top contender in the Asian golf circuit, also cited the Zika virus as his reason for withdrawing.
While not begrudging Que and the Top 4 for the very acceptable reason on why they were not going, we would like to commend Djokovich, Murray, Federer and Nadal for risking it by announcing separately that they would not miss the Rio Olympics for the world.
Many an Olympic athlete is as game as Djokovich and company when it comes to representing his country and waving its flag, perhaps because he is more patriotic, more driven, less attracted to the material benefits that a longer career in sports brings.
It is said that Olympic champions are remembered longer by sports fans.
The winners in Rio will get to cherish that thought even if they are old and gray.
The “boycotters” may regret their decision but then, nasa huli ang pagsisisi.
Let the games begin and good luck to Tabuena and the rest of the lean Philippine delegation!