Sunday, June 26, 2016

IOC member thinks golf should be out of the Olympics without stars

They're dropping like flies, or mosquitoes, from the men's Olympic golf tournament.

Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Graeme McDowell, Branden Grace, Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Vijay Singh, Tim Wilkinson, Charl Schwartzel and Miguel Angel Jimenez have all withdrawn their names from consideration for the 60-player tournament in Rio. Some have voiced concerns over Zika virus. Others have spoken of scheduling conflicts, including McDowell, whose wife is set to give birth to the couple's second child in September.

There are still other big names on the sidelines, including Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.

The International Olympic Committee has noticed, and an IOC member said that golf's potential inability to deliver its stars could make its place on the Olympic program short-lived.

Barry Maister is the IOC member, and he didn't mince words in offering his feelings on the rash of withdrawals.

"I think it is appalling," said Maister to New Zealand radio station Newstalk ZB, according to Inside the Games.

"I don't like it and I don't think the sport should be allowed to continue in the Games under that scenario. Once they've got in, they have got to deliver. Just getting in with your name, and then putting up some second- or third-rate players, is so far from the Olympic ideal or the expectation of the Olympic Movement. The Olympics is about the best, and they pledged the best."

To that end, Maister has a point. The International Golf Federation, the Olympics-recognized governing body of the sport in the program, promised golf's stars would clamor to play in the Games after a 112-year absence. Then again, golfers didn't sign up for Zika virus, contaminated water, a Brazilian economy in free fall, a host city infamous for its crime problems and an unstable government. None of that mattered to Maister, apparently. He thinks all Olympic sports should showcase only the best in the world.

"Quite frankly," he said, "any sport that cannot deliver its best athletes, in my view, should not be there."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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