3 Jul 2016

First female golfer pulls out of Rio

7:53 am on 3 July 2016

South Africa's world No.38 Lee-Anne Pace has become the first female golfer to withdraw from the Rio Olympics, citing fears over the Zika virus.

The South Africa golfer Lee-Anne Pace.

The South Africa golfer Lee-Anne Pace. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Several leading male players, including World No.1Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, have already announced they will not be playing in Rio.

The 35-year-old said she had been weighing up whether to compete over recent months.

"My health and my future family's health must come first," she said.

"I was very much looking forward to the opportunity but I have decided that due to the health concerns surrounding the Zika virus, I will not be participating."

Zika is mosquito-borne and has been linked to defects in newborn babies, prompting those looking to start a family to take extra precautions.

Olympic chiefs and the World Health Organization have advised athletes and visitors to Rio that the risk of catching Zika is low.

But four-time winner McIlroy, who has defended his decision, and Day have joined other high-profile players, including Ireland's Shane Lowry, Australia's Marc Leishman, Fiji's Vijay Singh, South Africa's Branden Grace and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, in withdrawing.

Golf is making its Olympic return in 2016 following a 112-year absence.