Danny Willett ignores Zika virus and will pack for Rio

England's Danny Willett
England's Danny Willett
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Danny Willett has confirmed he WILL play at golf’s Olympics debut in Rio despite concerns over the Zika virus.

A number of golf’s top names have opted out of the event due to health concerns, including Rory McIlroy and, most recently, world number one Jason Day.

While Sheffield golfer Willett admits he has given his own participation plenty of thought along with wife Nicole, he has declared his intent to play.

“The only reason you wouldn’t go would be because of concerns about Zika,” the Masters champion said.

“I’ve spoken to Nicole about it a lot, and we have concerns, but I’m still down for it and I still want to play.

“The threat is lowering every week. It’s come down by half in the last two months.”

Willett revealed he has had confirmation from fellow Brit Justin Rose that he will also play in Rio.

The Zika virus is spread by mosquitos and causes serious issues for pregnant women, including berth defects – which has been used as the main reason for the numerous withdrawals of golfers from the Olympics in Brazil.

Golf’s inclusion as an Olympic sport has proved controversial as, like tennis, plenty of the sport’s traditional tournaments are seen as much more prestigious.

This debate has led to accusations that some of those withdrawing from the Olympics are using the Zika virus as an easy excuse.

But Willett does not believe that is the case.

He said: “I think that’s a bit harsh.

“Some might, but I wouldn’t have though many would use that an excuse.

“I’m sure people who have pulled out haven’t done it willy nilly because they just don’t want to go.

“A lot of guys from Team GB have said they wouldn’t be going if they were concerned, and they are going.

“You don’t hear of many other athletes who have pulled out.”

Despite this, the Hackenthorpe-born ace says winning Olympic gold will never compare with winning a Major championship.

He said: “The Olympics is fantastic and it’s what all athletes around the world strive for, but we’ve just not been in it enough.

“I think if golf had been a part of it for the last 114 years, it might be a different story, but it’s not.

“I just don’t think it has the same feel or vibe as a Major. I don’t think it’ll ever quite compare.

“It’s a fantastic achievement, but the field strengths just don’t compare.”

Willett is back in action at the Open de France this week.