South Korean Golfer Kim Kyung Tae to Skip Olympics Over Zika Virus Concerns
Michael Song, July 11, 2016, 8:46 a.m.
South Korean golfer Kim Kyung-tae on Monday said he'll skip the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics due to fears over the Zika virus. The 29-year-old said through his agency, IMG, that he is planning on having his second child and decided the best course of action is to forgo the Olympics. Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that plagues Brazil and other parts of the Americas and has been linked to birth defects.
"As a father, I didn't want to take the risk, no matter how unlikely it was that I'd be infected," Kim said through his agency. "I've spoken to (the national team head coach) Choi Kyoung-ju and the Korea Golf Association for advice." Kim, a 13-time winner and two-time money champion in Japan, would have qualified for the Rio Games as one of two South Korean men in the field. Those inside the top 15 on the world rankings as of Monday are eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players per nation, and countries without anyone among the top 15 may field up to two players based on their world rankings.
Kim was the second-highest ranked South Korean at No. 41, behind the 31st-ranked An Byeong-hun, the 2015 European Tour Rookie of the Year, in the latest men's rankings released Monday. Kim joins a slew of who's who in men's golf who have pulled out of Rio due to Zika concerns. Three of the world's top-four players, including No. 1 Jason Day of Australia, won't be playing despite golf making its return to the Summer Games after a 114-year absence.
"I understand how big of an honor it is to represent the country," said Kim, who played at the 2006 Doha Asian Games and the 2011 Presidents Cup. "Because of my belief that I had to answer the bell when the nation came calling, I thought long and hard about making this decision. I'd like to apologize from the bottom of my heart to fans who are disappointed with my decision."