Rio 2016: Rory McIlroy defends comments on Olympic Games withdrawal

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McIlroy defends Olympics comments
The 145th Open Championship
Venue: Royal Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland Dates: 14-17 July
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Former world number one Rory McIlroy has remained defiant in the face of criticism over his controversial views on golf at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

McIlroy, 27, is one of 20 players to have withdrawn from next month's Games, citing fears about the Zika virus.

He said he would not watch the Olympic golf on television.

Speaking after Thursday's first round at The Open, McIlroy said: "I decided to stop dancing around the issue and tell everyone what I thought."

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I may not watch Olympic golf - McIlroy

The four-time major winner added: "I've thought about Olympics and golf for the last seven years and this is just how I feel.

"Some people don't like it, I get that; but it's my opinion.

"I don't think anyone can blame me for being too honest. It was seven years of trying to give the politically correct answer and finally I just cracked."

On Tuesday, the Northern Irishman said: "I'll probably watch the Olympics, but I'm not sure golf will be one of the events I'll watch."

Asked which events he would watch, McIlroy replied: "Probably track and field, swimming, diving, the stuff that matters."

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The Open 2016: Rory McIlroy's first round goes wrong

Those comments received criticism from English squash player Laura Massaro, whose sport is not included in the Olympics.

She called McIlroy's comments "unacceptable" and said he had shown a "lack of appreciation for how the Olympics can transcend an individual sport".

However, McIlroy, who is six shots off the lead after the first day of the Open, has tried to elaborate more on his comment that he "didn't get into golf to try to grow the game".

"I feel I've done my bit to grow the game," added the world number four. "It's not like I'm uninterested and golf is a great vehicle to instil values in kids.

"I'm an ambassador for the PGA Junior League and I've used my success in golf in a very positive way."

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