Rory McIlroy does not believe the withdrawal of several high-profile male golfers from the Rio Olympics has embarrassed the sport.

The four-time major champion is among a host of leading players, including Jason Day, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Shane Lowry, to have confirmed they will miss golf's return to the Olympic programme for the first time in 112 years.

McIlroy and world number one Day are among those to have cited the Zika virus, which is linked to serious birth defects, as their reason for pulling out, while scheduling issues have also been highlighted by others.

Yet McIlroy said on Wednesday: "I don't think it's embarrassing for the game, because most other athletes dream their whole lives about competing in the Olympics, winning an Olympic gold, and we haven't.

"We dream of winning Claret Jugs, winning green jackets. Whether that makes golf look insular in any way, [I'm not sure] but it's just the way it is.

"I've said to people, I have four Olympic Games a year - that's my pinnacle, that's what I play for, that's what I'll be remembered for.

"Unfortunately with where it is this year, people just aren't comfortable going down there and putting themselves or their family at risk.

"I'd say if the Olympics were in most other cities or most other countries in the world you wouldn't have as many people not wanting to go and participate."

Elaborating on the impact of Zika on several golfers' decisions, McIlroy added: "You've got Shane [Lowry] who's just got married, Jason Day's got a young family, I'm getting married next year.

"I'd say 90 per cent of the athletes going to the Olympics are single and have no plans to start a family in the near future, where as there are some golfers that are in that position.

"Just as, for example, I was speaking to Padraig Harrington about it last night, he's not planning on having any more children, so there's no risk of him putting [his wife] Caroline at risk or his future children at risk."

World number two Jordan Spieth revealed on Tuesday that he had yet to take a final call on participating in Rio, stating: "I have not received enough information to make an informed decision either way or not."