Rio 2016: Rory McIlroy comments unacceptable - Laura Massaro
Last updated on .From the section Golf
Rory McIlroy's "lack of appreciation" for the Olympics is "unacceptable" and golf's place should be reconsidered, says squash player Laura Massaro.
McIlroy is among several top players who will not attend Rio, where golf returns to the Games after 112 years.
He says he never "aspired" to compete, whereas former world champion Massaro insists her sport would consider the Olympics as its pinnacle.
"It's frustrating," she said. "There are athletes who would really want it."
Squash has consistently missed out on a place in the Olympics - including in 2009, when golf was voted in.
Massaro told BBC Radio 5 live: "I think part of being a professional athlete is also to grow the game and be a role model for young people watching on TV, and the Olympics is the perfect opportunity to do that."
The top four men's golfers in the world, including McIlroy, have all pulled out of next month's Olympics citing health concerns, but 32-year-old Massaro does not believe any squash players would have withdrawn.
Italian golfer Francesco Molinari has pulled out because of family reasons, bringing the number of men's players who have decided not to compete to 20.
"With a lot of the golfers blaming the Zika virus it's hard to know whether or not that's true," added Massaro.
Northern Irishman McIlroy, 27, said golf is "all about the four majors" and "that's the way it should stay", but that he would consider competing at Tokyo in 2020.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will make a decision on which sports will compete in the 2024 Games before Tokyo takes place.
Massaro said squash's top players had signed a letter when it was seeking Olympic recognition before the IOC decided which sports would feature at Rio - 18 of the world's top golfers did similar in 2009.
McIlroy said on Tuesday he would "watch the stuff that matters" in Rio, but probably not golf.
"It does seem a little unfair that a lot of sports out there would absolutely love their place in the Olympic Games, would see it as a pinnacle and would do everything they can to get an Olympic medal," said Massaro.
"I think his comments are unacceptable. It's a lack of appreciation for how the Olympics can just transcend an individual sport.
"It almost seems a shame you can't give that opportunity to athletes who would really, really want it. I would hope the IOC would definitely reconsider and look at some other options going forward."
Male golfers 'have let sport down'
Masters champion Danny Willett and Justin Rose will join Charley Hull and Catriona Matthew in Great Britain's golf team for Rio.
Former US Open winner Rose said McIlroy's comments were "hopefully a slip of the tongue", but that he respected the decision of those golfers who have withdrawn.
"It's obviously disappointing, there's no point lying about that," added Rose.
Matthew added she thought the men's stance on Zika was "odd" but accepted it was "everyone's individual decision".
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers similarly agreed "everybody has a right to their own opinions", but added one of the golf's joint governing body's roles was to "look to the future".
Despite a large number of withdrawals from the men's event, the women's competition will be almost at full strength.
Ladies' European Tour chief executive Ivan Khodabakhsh called the men's approach "very myopic", adding the "broader good of the game is in their hands".
"The top male golfers have let down the rest of the sport very badly," said Khodabakhsh.
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