World number four Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from the 2016 Olympic Games over concerns about the Zika virus in Rio.

McIlroy had previously stated his intention to represent Ireland in Brazil after golf returned to the Games' schedule for the first time since 1904.

However, the four-time major winner has opted out, citing concerns over the Zika virus – which evidence has shown can lead to birth defects in new-born babies - that have plagued the build-up to the Games in August.

"After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro," McIlroy said in a statement.

"After speaking with those closest to me, I've come to realise that my health and my family's health comes before anything else. Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take.

"I trust the Irish people will understand my decision. The unwavering support I receive every time I compete in a golf tournament at home or abroad means the world to me.

"I will continue to endeavour to make my fans and fans of golf proud of my play on the course and my actions off it."