The cynics out there will have a field day over Rory McIlroy’s decision to pull out of the Olympics.
I’m not one of them.
I just can’t see how he would put himself through the bother of deciding to represent Britain then change his mind and choose Ireland if he was looking for an excuse not to go to Rio.
It was such a controversial one that if he’d said back then that he wanted to opt out because he was torn over which country’s flag to walk behind at the opening ceremony then you could have understood that.
I don’t know the guy but – a bit like Andy Murray – he comes across as pretty intelligent and somebody who thinks deeply about big issues involving his sport and beyond that.
So I genuinely believe that he has pulled out for the reasons given, the Zika virus.
I’m not sure it will hurt the Olympics but it will hurt golf in the Olympics, that’s for sure.
There have already been a few other golfers who have made themselves unavailable but none with the profile of McIlroy.
Where he goes, others follow, and I suspect that the likes of Jordan Spieth and Jason Day may now do exactly that.
As an event within the Olympics, golf won’t have much credibility if all the stars aren’t there. If it’s the middle-ranking players then it devalues the medals.
I love winning any competition I enter, but if I know that big teams aren’t there who would have been our rivals for the title, it definitely takes a bit of gloss off.
To be able to say you’re the best, you have to have beaten the best.
It all comes back to the question, should golf be in the Games in the first place?
I’ve always said that it probably shouldn’t because it’s not the pinnacle of the sport.
It’s pretty significant that golfers are the highest profile withdrawals from Rio.
Because it isn’t the most important event on their calendar, it will be less of a sacrifice to miss it.
If your sport is taekwondo or track and field athletics or archery, that sacrifice would be a whole lot bigger. And that’s why athletes from these sports are more likely to go, I suspect.
I’ve read Andy Murray is thinking it over and it wouldn’t surprise me if he drops out as well.
But as far as damaging the Games is concerned, I don’t think people watch the Olympics for the golf or the tennis. They watch it for the events where it’s the ultimate achievement in a sport – the events that they maybe only watch once every four years.
Rory McIlroy is a huge global star but he’s not a huge Olympic star. I don’t think any golfer ever will be.
* On the subject of huge golf stars, I hear Tiger Woods is holding out a bit of hope of being at Troon in a few weeks.
It would be fantastic for the profile of The Open if he did make it over here but I just can’t see it happening.
I think his race is run.