The Zika virus threat in Rio has already seen a slew of golfers opt out of the Olympic games in 2016 – although not all of them have cited the virus as the main reason for their decisions. Marc Leishman from Australia was one of the first up to decline the trip to Rio and many other famous names followed suit. On 24th June and again on 30th June another two golf players opted out after citing concerns over the Zika virus.

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South African players.

This time around, the players come from Africa. Despite the general belief that mosquito-carried viruses are rife in South Africa – Zika virus is not commonly found in the country. The only patient diagnosed with the virus in South Africa was actually a Columbian who was visiting the country back in February. There were no concerns that he would have infected anyone else, according to a statement made by Health Minister Motsoaledi.

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Lee-Anne Pace.

On 30 June, Lee-Anne Pace announced her withdrawal from Rio in a statement that was published by the LPGA. In it, she said that she is a very proud South African and travels the world playing under the South African Flag, but the Zika virus had too many family concerns to risk exposure in Rio. She went on to thank the IOC for allowing the sport to be a part of the games. She added, “After weighing up all the options and discussing it with my family and team, I have decided that due to the health concerns surrounding the Zika Virus, I will not be participating.” In response, the LPGA said that they fully understand the concerns, especially amongst women players.

They wrote that the “LPGA will respect and support our member's decisions as it relates to participating in Rio 2016.

Branden Grace. 

Branden Grace is another South African who announced that due to the Zika virus he would not play at the Olympics. It was reported by AP - The Big Story on 24 June that he is getting married soon and is hoping to start a family. Once again – it is the concern for family members that has helped a player to reach a very difficult decision. It is the dream of every top athlete to participate in the games.

"It would have been a huge honor to represent my country, so I really hope to be able to qualify again in four years' time," he said. 

Four South Africans now out the games.

This means that so far South Africa has lost a total of four of their top players from the golf team at the Olympics.

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Previously, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel also ruled out playing in Rio. Grace is currently ranked at world # 12 according to the official Golf Ranking website. Rolex rankings show that Lee-Anne Pace, the first female golfer to withdraw is ranked at #38.

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